Physical And Mental Health Consequences Of Poor Dental Care
Time and again, studies have shown a close connection between the human’s physical and mental health. There is further evidence to suggest that those who have poor oral health may develop heart disease and oral cancer, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Today, dental health professionals are trying to redefine the approach to oral health and consider human dietary patterns as an important factor in preventing dental problems. Weston Price, DDS, states in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, that it is possible to control cavities through nutrition.
He goes on to say that having a good diet can effectively control about 95 percent of dental caries. It’s a relevant topic today, considering how nutrition is linked with many health issues. It is noteworthy that Price’s conclusions address the role of nutrition in dealing with dental health, besides the physical and mental aspects.
What Causes Dental-Related Illnesses?
In big cities, over-processed food has become a staple to people’s diets and is the main contributor to increased dental diseases. This is due to the fast food items, fats, and sugars that upset many functions in the body, leading to problems like tooth decay among others.
Meanwhile, the population living in underdeveloped parts of the world has little to no cases of tooth decay or other oral health issues. Because their diets contain adequate amounts of all the vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients the body needs, they are more likely to be in optimal health.
Your Mouth, The Gateway To Your Body
Being a major gateway into the body, the mouth and any disease that develops inside it can pose a threat to the person’s overall wellbeing. The way you take care of your teeth and gums influences your physical health. If you fail to maintain proper dental hygiene, bacteria and cavities start to advance and can lead to inflammation and infection. More serious health problems that can arise include:
- Heart Disease
- Oral Cancer
These are only a few examples of diseases that could happen when a person neglects his or her oral hygiene. Apart from these, studies have revealed that people with dental issues are also more likely to develop mental health disorders such as:
- Eating Disorders
Research proves that you cannot be healthy with an unhealthy mouth. For you to enjoy a healthy body, you must also take care of your mouth, teeth, and gums. In other words, there is a strong link between dental health and overall wellbeing of the body.
Conditions Linked To Poor Oral Health
According To Price, teeth and gum problems -which are brought by unnatural dietary patterns – are the main culprits of the overall poor health in modern societies. Following are some of the physical and mental health issues related to or caused by poor dental health:
- Diabetes – The working relationship between periodontitis and diabetes may be the strongest of all connections between the mouth and body. When the mouth is inflamed, your body’s ability to control blood sugar starts to weaken. Gum disease further complicates diabetes since the inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin.
What’s worse, high blood sugar provides an ideal environment for infection to grow, including gum infections. Fortunately, you can combat this two-way problem by managing one of them. Taking care of your oral health will help bring your diabetes under control, and vice-versa.
- Heart Disease – Though the reasons are fully understood, scientists conclude that heart and gum disease go hand in hand. The theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes the same problem in the blood vessels.
Compared to 66 percent of people with no heart disease, up to 91 percent of patients with heart conditions have periodontitis. These two illnesses have several risk factors in common, such as unhealthy diet, smoking, and obesity. In fact, some suspect that gum infection has a direct role in raising the risk of heart disease.
- Cancer – Not only do people with poor dental hygiene risk developing throat and oral cancer, but also other types of the disease as well. As we’ve discussed, the mouth is the main gateway to your body. Smoking tobacco and other poor oral practices expose your body to carcinogenic products that increase the risk of cancer.
- Eating Disorders – Anorexic patients often consume less calcium and other nutrients teeth need to stay strong. Meanwhile, those who suffer from bulimia release additional acid in the mouth due to vomiting, which can cause tooth decay.
- Anxiety – Dental problems, such as uneven, chipped, or missing teeth can make people withdraw from speaking before others. When speech is affected, they also lose their self-esteem. Even bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth can impact one’s social life. All these factors have negative effects on such people’s mental and overall health.
- Depression – A study conducted by Deakin University showed that poor dental health can lead to depression. The research, published on Medical Xpress, gathered information from more than 10,000 respondents in the U.S. Depression is regarded as an inflammatory disease, meaning that sources of such problem like bad dietary habits that lead to oral health problems contribute to the biological processes that induce mental disorders from an early age.
- Dementia – This condition is characterized by memory loss. When bacteria from infected gums get into the bloodstream, some end up in the brain where they wreak havoc among the brain cells and cause memory loss.
- Schizophrenia – People with schizophrenia have increased decay and gum disease because of bacterial infection rather than attrition, erosion, or abrasion. The reasons are the same as for other psychiatric disorders. Other contributions include barriers to dental care; substance, alcohol, and tobacco use; and diet.
Decades of data are available concerning the relationship of poor oral health with overall physical and mental wellbeing, yet it remains a largely forgotten problem. Having a healthy mouth, teeth, and gums have significant consequences for the quality of life of patients. Closer collaboration among physicians, mental health advisors, and dentists is important to remove barriers to care.