Nothing but the tooth

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If eyes are the ‘window’ to the soul, then mouth is the ‘window’ to the rest of the body. People say that you can tell a lot about a person from just looking into their eyes and surprisingly, the same goes for the mouth.

Did you know that a number of chronic diseases and conditions have been linked to poor oral health? It is however, a two-way street:

Oral health speaks volume of overall well-being

You can almost always spot the tell-tale signs of underlying diseases from the mouth first. For instance, mouth lesions can be hinting at a more serious condition like an HIV infection and bleeding gums can be a symptom of a blood disorder. A number of different sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also cause symptoms in your mouth including herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Poor oral conditions might induce various health issues

The mouth contains an ecosystem of its own. It is reported that one single mouth is home to more than 6 billion bacteria. While not all of them are bad bacteria, some may trigger infections in other parts of the body, especially when the immune system has been compromised by diseases.

Here are some of the chronic health conditions that can affect your mouth and vice versa:

Cardiovascular disease

It describes a wide range of conditions that can affect the heart and blood vessels. While the link between the two is still not fully understood, a slew of studies suggested that oral bacteria can cause infections and inflammation that could trigger heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke.

Pneumonia

It is an infection in one or both lungs which can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. According to Healthline, bacterial pneumonia is the most common type in adults. Through the process of breathing, certain bacteria in your mouth can be mistakenly sucked into your lungs, causing this and many other respiratory diseases.

Diabetes

It is a disease that affects the body’s ability to process sugar. It can also happen when your blood glucose levels are too high. If a diabetes patient does not seek treatment, he or she will also likely experience poor oral health conditions such as reduced saliva, more cavities, gum disease and infections.

Cancer

Cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells in our body. According to reports, more than one-third of cancer patients also complained about having oral conditions such as mouth sores, dry mouth, jaw pain and sensitive gums. This is most likely due to the treatment methods used for cancer which may weaken the body’s immune system. If you have unhealthy gums, the tendency to get an infection is higher.

Fret not, there are still a lot that you can do to take care of your oral health. Here are some of the steps towards having the perfect oral hygiene:

  1. Dentists worldwide recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Do not skip daily flossing as it helps to remove plaque in areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.
  3. Use mouthwash. Aside from killing bacteria that causes bad breath, it will also help prevent plaque build-up.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. Minimise the intake of sugary food as they can lead to cavities.
  5. As soon as you notice the bristles are worn, replace your toothbrush. Do so at least once every three months.
  6. Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings to ensure your overall oral health is top-notch.
  7. Avoid tobacco use as it causes bad breath, tooth discoloration and an increased build-up of dental plaque, among many others.

You should always pay close attention to the condition of your mouth. Consult a medical professional if you notice that you have any of these symptoms:

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
  • Sores or colored patches in the mouth
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

We have all heard the saying: better safe than sorry. It is advisable to be extra cautious and careful, especially when it comes to health matters. Put your mind at ease by learning more about AIA’s protection plan. Its life insurance solution covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas. Contact 086 999 242 to inquire further.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, World Health Organisation, Oral Health Platform, Family Doctor, Dental Health, Ireland Dental Health Foundation, Healthline.

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