When having dental implants placed, there are a variety of factors that can affect the procedure, as well as the future of your dental implants. One of these factors is your overall health. While many people believe that dental implants are only affected by their oral health, there is a close relationship between your overall and oral health. Therefore, one can affect the other and vice versa. Understanding this close relationship between your oral and overall health is an important part of improving your health and chances of implant success.
What Happens in Your Mouth
To better understand the relationship between your oral and overall health, let’s start by taking a deeper look at your mouth. The human mouth naturally contains thousands of bacteria. In limited quantities, these bacteria are beneficial and help to protect the mouth from germs and other foreign invaders that enter the mouth. However, when bacteria continue to reproduce and accumulate, this can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
This is because bacteria are living creatures that convert food in an acidic waste product that damages tooth enamel. When a large amount of bacteria congregates in one area, this exposes the enamel to extremely acidic conditions. As these acids begin to erode the enamel, a cavity will start to form. In the case where bacteria accumulate along the gum line, this causes the gums to become inflamed. Excess bacteria can accumulate in the mouth as a result of consuming excessive amounts of sugar, as well as poor oral hygiene.
How it Affects the Body
Most of the time, oral bacteria will remain in the mouth where they can cause oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. However, the mouth’s natural defense system can weaken overtime as a result of constantly fighting bacteria. Once the mouth’s defense system has worn down over time, this can allow bacteria to pass through the mouth into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, bacteria can then travel through the body.
While oral bacteria are commonly associated with causing tooth decay and gum disease, these bacteria can cause other problems when they reach other parts of the body. In fact, the location where they end up determines how they will affect your overall health. Here are some health conditions that can occur as a result of poor oral health:
- Heart attack ( The University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely to diet from a heart attack)
- Stroke (The University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were three times as likely to die from a stroke)
- Respiratory problems
- Clogged arteries
- Pregnancy complications such as low birth weight and preeclampsia
Additionally, recent research has suggested a potential link between poor oral health and severe COVID-19 infections. It is believed that people in poor oral health are more likely to have bacteria travel from their mouth into their lungs. When this happens, it can cause a bacterial infection that is secondary to the primary viral infection. As you can probably guess, having both a bacterial and viral infection simultaneously increases the risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
As you can see, your oral and overall health are closely related. While individuals who replace missing teeth with dental implants are no longer susceptible to tooth decay, they are still at risk for developing periodontal disease. This can be problematic since periodontal gum disease can cause implant failure and impair your overall health. Therefore, it is important to practice good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. You will also need to visit your dentist for regular dental checkups and cleanings to ensure you are still in good oral health.
Irfan Atcha, DDS, DICOI, DADIA at New Teeth Chicago Dental in Chicago, Illinois is a board-certified general dentist and a nationally recognized expert in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and sedation dentistry.