Let’s be honest, 2020 was for most people an incredibly stressful year. Many of us will have put on more than a few pounds, drank a glass or two extra of wine and let our healthy routines slip a little with gyms closed for certain periods and our normal routines effected, but with general health and wellness being more important than ever we can make small changes that will have a huge impact on our body and mind, and in turn can have a positive impact on our oral health.
We have once again become consumed with work and family life that we forget to take time for ourselves and ignore our own wellbeing. The thought of giving up the things we most enjoy may feel totally unachievable especially given we still haven’t fully returned to ‘normal’, but when you look at the relationship between oral health and general wellness the benefits far outweigh the things you may have to cut down on.
How can our general health effect our oral health?
Gum disease and poor oral health is linked to a host of illnesses including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and can lead to premature birth or low weight babies. People with gum disease are actually twice more likely to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.
Signs of gum disease could include:
-inflammation of the gums
-an unpleasant taste in the mouth
-regular mouth infections
When a patient has gum disease it is thought that bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream, this can affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels making clots more likely to form. If the blood flow is badly affected this can lead to a heart attack.
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and suffer with infections. Gum disease can also increase your blood sugar, putting you at risk of complications. Diabetics may also heal slower and are at a higher risk of losing teeth. A study in America found when you treat and control diabetes, the condition in the mouth improves and the reverse, when you treat periodontal disease the need for insulin can be reduced.
Gum disease and pregnancy
Pregnant women with poor oral health are 3 times more likely to give birth prematurely or have a baby with a low birth weight with a 1 in 4 chance of giving birth before 35 weeks. Bacterial chest infections can be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs leading to infections and pneumonia. With the elderly population this can be particularly dangerous highlighting the huge importance of good oral hygiene.
So what small steps can we take?
-Try and cut down on sugar and replace with healthier snack alternatives such as fruit, plain yoghurt, chopped vegetables, chicken or turkey perhaps.
-Try and cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol contains a huge amount of sugar. This will not only have a positive impact on your waistline but on your oral health as well.
-Drink more water and stay hydrated.
-Get outdoors into the fresh air and light. We’ve been stuck in doors so much throughout the last 18 months daylight and a bit of air can do wonders for our general and mental health.
-Take daily exercise! This doesn’t have to be high impact gym sessions or running, but a short stroll or simply doing more steps. Walk to the local shop instead of driving or take your bike to the park.
Every little helps, and starting off with small steps rather than huge strides will lead to bigger changes.
Ultimately, it’s a juggling act, life gets so busy we forget about the small things. These things are so important for us to feel fit, strong and healthy generally and indeed mentally. If we look after ourselves, find that balance and have everything in moderation the impact it can have on us is hugely beneficial. ‘Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live’.