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06 / 03 / 2024

Beyond teeth: Our role in overall health and well-being

Dental health is closely connected to general health and taking a holistic approach to dental care is essential for your overall well-being. In this article, we explain the connections between dental health and general health, with an emphasis on holistic care – meaning that your oral health impacts your overall health.

The connection between dental health and general health

Like with other areas of the body, your mouth is a host to bacteria. This bacteria is generally harmless, but your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause and contribute to certain diseases. Infections, inflammation, and diseases in your mouth can influence other functioning systems, which has the potential to contribute to or exacerbate various general health issues.

Usually, you can keep bacteria well controlled through the body’s natural defences combined with good oral health care, such as daily brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. If you are unable to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, bacteria can reach levels that could lead to dental infections, including tooth decay and gum disease.

Poor dental health, in particular the presence of a gum disease called periodontitis, is associated with chronic inflammation in the mouth and is linked to contributing to certain types of disease including cardiovascular diseases, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature and low birth weight babies.

Five conditions that can be affected by poor oral health | Oral Health Foundation (dentalhealth.org)

In addition, certain medications can reduce saliva flow and in turn can cause a dry mouth. Saliva washes food away and neutralises acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth, which helps to protect you from the bacteria that can lead to disease. It is important to make your dentist aware of medications that you take, and if there are any changes to your health, particularly if you have become unwell with a chronic condition such as diabetes.

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A holistic approach to dental care

Teeth play a vital role in breaking food down for the process of digestion. Dental problems such as cavities or missing teeth can hinder adequate chewing and digestion, which can potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies and digestive problems. A holistic approach to dental care considers the impact of oral health on overall nutrition and digestive well-being.

As we know, dental issues can cause a significant degree of pain and discomfort, which can in turn affect your quality of life. Chronic pain can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression, negatively impacting your general health and well-being.

A healthy and happy smile is essential for effective and confident communication. Dental problems that affect one’s appearance may lead to social withdrawal, which reduces opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Holistic dental care acknowledges the psychological and social aspects of oral health, looking at the bigger picture.

lighthouse dentists

Preventative measures and proactive care

Taking a holistic approach to your dental health involves not only treating existing dental issues but also focusing on preventative and proactive care. There are many steps you can take to protect and manage your oral health, including:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Use interdental cleaning brushes daily.
  • Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet, limiting sugary food and drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are splayed or worn.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and visits to your hygienist.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Stress management.
  • Adopt lifestyle factors that help your overall health and well-being. Taking good care of your oral health is an investment in yourself.

Collaboration in healthcare

Healthcare providers are increasingly recognising the importance of integrating dental care into overall healthcare plans. Collaboration between dentists and other healthcare professionals can help to both identify and manage oral health issues that may impact general health and vice-versa. We work closely with our colleagues at ESNEFT to ensure that our focus on and commitment to your overall health and well-being is always at the forefront of what we do.

You will also now more frequently see businesses offering dental care plans as part of an employee package. Lighthouse Dental Practice collaborates with local businesses in the Suffolk community to offer such packages and to promote overall health and well-being. Together, we can maintain not only healthy smiles but also contribute to a stronger, healthier Suffolk.

To conclude, the connection between dental health and your general health is very significant and underpins the importance of taking a holistic approach to oral care. When you recognise the connections between oral and systemic health and address dental issues within the broader context of overall well-being, it can lead to improved health outcomes and a better quality of life.

Regular dental check-ups, adopting good oral hygiene practices, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle all play pivotal roles in maintaining both dental and general health.

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“Hygienist, Angela sets you at ease from the moment you walk ...“

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“Wow! The service I received from Jane was absolutely fantast...“

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“I am 70 years of age, and I have always been afraid to go to...“

Earlmain L

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“I booked an emergency treatment appointment, having had a to...“

Ginette S

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“As a nervous patient, I was very worried about having my too...“

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“Having not been to a dentist in over 25 years, I was a bag o...“

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“Hygienist, Angela sets you at ease from the moment you walk in the door. She is not onl...“

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“Wow! The service I received from Jane was absolutely fantastic; she went above and beyond ...“

Dee D

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“I am 70 years of age, and I have always been afraid to go to the dentist. A broken tooth ...“

Earlmain L

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“I booked an emergency treatment appointment, having had a tooth for a few days and was una...“

Ginette S

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“As a nervous patient, I was very worried about having my tooth removed. I was instantly pu...“

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“Having not been to a dentist in over 25 years, I was a bag of nerves when I arrived, but I...“

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