In support of National Dental Health Week, we are exploring the connection between oral health and overall health.
Your mouth can serve as a helpful window, revealing telling signs of broader health issues in your body. In fact, your oral health can be indicative of early signs and symptoms of systemic disease (one that affects a number of organs and tissues, or affects the body as a whole).
Below we explore a few of the most common oral health issues, what they could mean in terms of your whole body’s wellbeing, and common, simple ways to treat them.
Studies have found some of the most common causes for teeth and gum issues are vitamin deficiencies, which can lower your mouth’s resistance to bacteria and lower your mouth’s ability to heal inflamed gum tissue.
Studies have also revealed that a deficiency of vitamin D and A can affect the enamel on your teeth, while a vitamin B deficiency can cause lips to crack, cheeks to develop ulcers, gum lining to become inflamed, and the mouth and tongue to develop a burning sensation.
When it comes to vitamin deficiencies, there are plenty of options to keep your body in check. Getting a blood test is a fantastic way to get insight into what your body is efficient and deficient in. Knowledge is power. Once you know what your body needs, you can take positive action. We’ve written several articles on ways you can include more vitamins into your diet, through food. Supplements are another way to achieve your body’s daily needs if you are deficient in a particular vitamin.
Also known as halitosis, bad breath is one of the most common oral health issues and is caused by sulphur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and in the throat. Some of the more common causes of bad breath include:
• Dental factors – such as periodontitis (infection around the teeth) or poor oral hygiene
• Dry mouth – caused by medicines, alcohol, stress or a medical condition
• Smoking – which starves the mouth of oxygen
When it comes to your whole body, research has found that bad breath can also be indicative of kidney failure, various carcinomas, metabolic dysfunctions, and biochemical disorders, however, these account for only a very small percentage of halitosis suffers.
Depending on what is causing the odour, there are some simple ways to manage the more common causes of bad breath, including:
• Drinking lots of cool water – to help hydrate a dry mouth
• Using a gentle tongue cleaner or scraper – most of the odour-causing bacteria is developed on the tongue and throat
• Chewing a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds – their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria
• Chewing a piece of lemon or orange rind (wash the rind thoroughly first) – the citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands which will in turn help to fight bad breath
• Chewing a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro – the chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odours.
Dental Health Week is the Australian Dental Association’s major annual oral health awareness campaign. It aims to educate Australians about the importance of maintaining good oral health throughout their lives.
Note: If you have any oral health concerns, speak to your dentist, doctor or chemist to help identify issues and to find the most effective treatment for you.
For more information about National Dental Health Week visit: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week/Home