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Oral and General Health

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The relationship between your oral and general health is a lot more involved than you may think.

Oral health is an essential part of everyone’s wellbeing. It impacts on our ability to eat and speak, as well as our self-esteem. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the relationship between oral and general health.

You might have heard that gum disease is related to other diseases in particular diabetes and heart disease. There are many common risk factors for oral disease and the common non communicable diseases of the body e.g. heart disease. Your mouth, head and body are all connected, so it isn’t surprising that there are many links. Take a look at some of the videos that the British Society of Periodontology have produced to learn more. Start with the great video shared from the Dutch VMTI – The Mouth – a reflection of our health.

Have you thought about your mouth and how it relates to not only oral health but also your overall health and well being? Watch this short video from Public Health England 2019 explaining the links between oral and general health.

Your oral health is about much more than just what is inside your mouth.

Many oral conditions have a direct or indirect relationship to other conditions affecting overall health and wellbeing.

Diabetes represents a major public health issue with the NHS spending around £10 billion per year on its care.
Around 3.7 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes, and it is estimated that there could be a
further 1 million people living with type 2 diabetes who do not know they have the condition because they have not been
diagnosed. (Royal College of Surgeons RCS 2019)
Diabetes is recognised risk factor for gum disease. Learn more about the link between gum disease and diabetes here.

Obesity is one of the biggest long-term health challenges not only in the UK bt worldwide.  the World health organisation reported “About 16% of adults aged 18 years and older worldwide were obese in 2022“. RCS quotes a Health Survey for England in 2019 that 29% of adults are obese with a further 36% are overweight. Obesity can lead to a number of serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Common risk factors connect obesity and oral health e.g. diet high in free sugars.

Your mouth is so much more that teeth, gums and smiles! It is a reflection of your overall health. Read about the effects of oral disease on general (systemic) health published in 2017 as a collaboration between General Dentistry and the American Family Physician.

Most oral diseases and conditions share risk factors (such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet high in free sugars) common to the four leading noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes. Worldwide non-communicable diseases (NCD) are responsible for over 70% of deaths. Many of these deaths are premature in people under the age of 70. The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a fact sheet about oral health that can be read here.

Risk factors for the most common non-communicable diseases are also risk factors for oral diseases.

Health care systems worldwide most often take a ‘repair’ approach rather than a ‘wellness approach to improving health and well being. Being able to assess your risk of developing a disease or condition BEFORE it occurs is the ideal scenario. In such a situation a preventive approach can be taken to avoid the likelihood of disease occurring. For many with an established NCD this may not be possible, but by taking certain steps such conditions can be controlled and managed.

In our post Covid19 era we are all well versed in risk and mitigating for these risks. Reminders to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, not touch our faces and practice social distancing are all ways to mitigate (reduce) our risk of becoming infected with Coronavirus.

There are some risk factors for oral disease (and NCD’s) that we can do nothing about e.g. family history, but there are ways we can mitigate our risk of developing and limiting the impact of oral diseases. Taking CONTROL of your oral health has many benefits for improving your overall health and your well being.

Find out more about the link between gum disease and general health here.

At Growing Smiles we like to focus on HEALTH, not just oral health or general health but OVERALL HEALTH and WELL BEING. Our aim is to promote health and work with health care systems to promote health and prevent illness. There are many risk factors and lifestyle choices that impact not only our oral but also overall health.

All these affect our oral and overall health and well being.

Some risk factors affecting our health and well being we have no control over e.g age, family history. But there are a some things we can do to ‘mitigate’ for these risks and improve our oral health and overall health. Learn more about prevention and risk. Why not take my dental score and find out your risk of oral disease. Find out about MyDentalScore here.

Find out more about Common risk factors for oral and general health through the links below.

Diet and nutrition – It’s not just sugars that can affect our oral health. Eating a healthy balanced diet is important for the tissues that hold our teeth in our jaw i.e. gums and bone. A poor diet lacking in a wide range of minerals and vitamins can increase inflammation leading to bleeding gums and other problems like ulcers, sore tongue etc. Find our more about how diet relates to your mouth here.

Dehydration will impact our saliva flow and our ‘secret helper’ doesn’t help as well as it should or could. Find out more about saliva and dry mouth here.

Eat well, keep gums healthy, live longer. Article by Dental hygienist and nutritionist Juliette Reeves.

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“It is now recognised that physical activity also plays a part in health and disease and this is being incorporated into food pyramid graphics.41 The Mediterranean Diet (TMD) has recently been updated to reflect cultural and socio-economic variations.42 There is an increasing body of high quality evidence to support the effects of TMD in decreasing cardiovascular disease and diabetes in high risk groups”.

Lifestyle factors e.g tobacco, alcohol etc are common to many chronic diseases affecting oral and general health. Find out more about those factors that effect your mouth here.

The British and Irish Society of Oral Medicine have patient information on the following –

Angina Bullosa Haemorrhagica

Behçet’s Disease

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Coated and Hairy Tongue

Dry Mouth

Geographic tongue

Mouth Cancer

Orofacial Granulomatosis

Oral Epithelial Dysplasia

Oral Erythema Multiforme

Oral Lichen Planus

Oral Pemphigoid

Oral Pemphigus Vulgaris

Persistent Oro-facial Pain

Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis


Sjögren’s Syndrome

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Back to Healthy Tips for Happy Teeth and Oral Health

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