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How does Oral health affect General Health

When people are under stress (emotional problem), They suffer from different problems like mouth ulcers, stomach ulcers, migraines, lack of appetite, disturbed sleep etc.( effect on different parts of the body)

When a person is suffering from jaundice (Liver problem) his eyes become yellow (effect on eye and skin.)

When someone is nervous due to exams, job interviews (emotional problem) their stomach is upset (effect on stomach)

When someone has vitamin deficiency(systemic problem), their mouth become reddish and start burning, and corners of the mouth are cracked (effect in the mouth).

When someone has diabetes (systemic problem) they don’t feel pain in the foot injury (effect on feet). When there is hormonal imbalance during pregnancy and menopause (Physical problem), there are mood swings and irritability (effect on mental status) and bleeding gums (effect in the mouth)From all the above examples I am trying to say that all the systems in our body including our mind are interconnected and if some part of our body has a problem there will be varying degrees of effects on all the other systems of our body.

So the question is; can oral health affect general health and vice versa?

The answer is yes.
We generally think that mouth is just a set of 32 teeth. We go to the dentists when there is a problem in one of the teeth. We don’t think that there can be problems in the areas other than teeth in the mouth, and the root cause may be in some other system/part of the body. Similarly untreated oral diseases have effects on the other systems of the body (picture 1)

 

In 2015, World Dental Federation (FDI) in their report, mentioned oral conditions that can influence systemic problems like Diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, pre-term low birth weight babies etc. (picture 2, 3)

 

 

Download Report

 

There is a lot of research evidence that gum diseases are associated with increased risk of these conditions. I am sure most of you would not think that something as insignificant as bleeding gums and pyorrhea can have significant effects on vital organs of our body. A simple fact that if you cannot eat properly due to untreated dental problems, none of your body systems receive nutrition to carry out

their individual function is sufficient to understand the interconnectivity of all the systems and tissues of our body.

According to The World Oral Health Report 2003: continuous improvement of oral health in the 21st century – the approach of the WHO Global Oral Health Programme, Oral diseases restrict activities in school, at work and at home causing millions of school and work hours to be lost each year the world over. Psychosocial impact of these diseases often significantly diminishes quality of life.

Do not neglect the most important part of your body –your mouth. It is responsible for speech, smile, kiss, touch, taste, chew, swallow, to cry out in pain and above all providing nourishment to your body and thereby keep you alive.

Dr. Vaibhavi Joshipura

Periodontist (Gum Specialist) MDS, Periodontics/Periodontology, PhD. Periodontics/Periodontology