How Oral Health Affects Fitness and Overall Health

How Oral Health Affects Fitness and Overall Health

Did you think yellow teeth and bad breath were the only reasons why you should be brushing your teeth?

Think again.

Your oral health affects your overall health in many ways, which in turn affect your ability to perform, workout, and stay fit. Keep in mind, that when we talk about oral health, we are referring to mouth, gums, and teeth.

By the end of this article, if you are into fitness, you should be scared to death about not brushing your teeth at least twice a day.

 

A Brief Overview of the Oral cavity

Oral health diagramYour oral cavity is packed with different parts that work together to help you take in water and nutrients and really just initiate the digestion phase.

Like a lot of other areas in the body, your mouth has a lot of bacteria- most of which are harmless. Usually, the natural defenses in the body and good oral health care, like regular brushing and flossing can keep these bacteria in control. However, without proper hygiene, the bacteria may reach levels which could lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease.

Various medications like painkillers and antidepressants lead to a reduction in saliva flow. Saliva washes the food and neutralizes acids which are produced by bacteria in the mouth, protecting you from a microbial attack which can lead to disease.

Our mouth also serves as an important vantage point to detect the early symptoms and signs of oral systematic disease- A disease that affects the whole body which resulted from an entry point of the oral cavity. Conditions like AIDS or diabetes, for instance, first become visible as oral problems.

 

Health and Fitness Issues due to bad Oral Hygiene

heart attack oral health

Most people are aware that good dental hygiene and oral health can help you prevent bad breath, tartar build-up, and gum disease. But research is also being actively conducted to prove that a number of medical problems can result from an unhealthy mouth.

People who have poor dental hygiene tend to have a greater risk of heart disease than someone with healthy gums. All physical fitness activities require cardiovascular work.

 

Conditions That Are Linked To Oral Health:

  • Endocarditis– It is an infection which happens at the inner lining of your heart. The problem occurs when germs or other bacteria enter through your mouth and spread through the bloodstream, eventually linking themselves to damaged areas of the heart. Mayo Clinic.
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as stroke– Researchers from the American Heart Association also state that heart diseases, clogged arteries, and strokes may be linked to infections which are caused by oral bacteria.
  • Birth and pregnancy Complications– Periodontitis is a medical condition which has been linked with premature birth and even a low birth weight.

Other Factors that influence your Oral Health:

  1. Smoking or chew Tobacco– contribute to increased chemical/tartar build up and oral health complications. This should be obvious, based on how this practice yellows and, in some cases, blackens your teeth.
  2. Diabetes– Diabetes brings a reduction in the body’s resistance to infections, which puts the gums at risk. Gum diseases appear more frequently among those who have diabetes. People who suffer from gum diseases have a tough time to control their sugar levels too.
  3. HIV/AIDS– Oral issues like painful mucosal lesions are very common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
  4. Osteoporosis– This is a disease which leads to the bones becoming weak and very brittle and may be linked with tooth and bone loss. The drugs which can treat osteoporosis also carry risk to damage the bones in the jaw.

Other conditions which can be tightly linked to the oral health involve eating disorders, head and neck cancers and even Sjogren’s syndrome- an immunity disorder which causes a dry mouth.

 

Oral Cancer- Causes And Symptoms

oral cancer squamous cell

“Taking your time” to keep good oral hygiene can also lead to oral cancer, which is a huge disease in itself.

Oral cancer forms when the cells located on your lips or in the mouth develop mutations in the DNA. The mutation change instructs the cells to keep on dividing when healthy cells die. The increase in cells in the mouth is cancer that then forms into a tumor.

Certain factors that increase the risk of oral cancer:

  • Tobacco use like cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco as well.
  • Heavy alcoholism.
  • Unnecessary exposure to lips.
  • A weakened immune system.

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • A lip or sore mouth which does not heal.
  • Extremely Loose teeth.
  • Mouth pain and ear pain.
  • Difficulty to swallow.

If you notice these potential signs, you should consult a professional such as Winchester dentist.  Be sure to mention if you have been on medication or if you have had any change in the overall health.

 

How to Protect Oral Health

Brushing teeth fitness

There are certain good oral hygiene practices which can help you maintain a good overall oral health. They may sound redundant but they’ll help to keep your whole body in check:

  • Brushing your teeth at least two times a day, with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Flossing every day.
  • Consuming a balanced diet and fewer snacks in between the meals.
  • Replacing your toothbrush once in every three to four months, even sooner if the bristles get frayed.
  • Scheduling regular checkups with your dentist for a cleaning.
  • Avoiding the use of tobacco.

 

*This is a Guest Post submitted by Dr. Lee Butler and edited by Johnathan

 

Editor’s note:

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