Mothers are often the cornerstone of their families, providing care, support, and love. However, due to age and pressures of life, many mothers are at risk of chronic diseases. These conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, can significantly impact their health, happiness and ability to fulfil their multitude of roles. Fortunately, many can be prevented or managed through healthy lifestyle choices, regular medical check-ups, and early intervention.
Maintaining good oral health is essential for overall health, as poor oral hygiene can be a contributing factor in the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and respiratory infections. In this blog, we will explore the role of oral health in overall health, and provide simple tips to help mothers improve their oral health to reduce their likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases.
Common chronic diseases and oral health
Oral health as a contributing factor to the development of chronic diseases is an ongoing area of study which we keenly follow. Our steadfast goal in educating our patients about this serious matter is ensuring their life-long health and quality of life. When our patients get into their motherhood years, they may be at greater risk of some of these common chronic diseases which can have a relationship with oral health.
- Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels, leading to health problems. The immune response associated with gum disease can consume so much of the body’s endocrine supply that there is not enough remaining for insulin production, which is used in blood sugar regulation.
- Heart disease is a group of conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure. The link between oral health and heart disease is multifactorial, with a one factor being that oral pathogens can enter the bloodstream through gum infection. Once in the blood, bacteria and viruses travel throughout the cardiovascular system and may trigger the release of large white blood cells. These large white blood cells can become lodged in small blood vessels, especially in the heart. Other components of blood, including cholesterol, then join the traffic jam which forms atherosclerotic plaque. This blocks the supply of oxygen and nutrients and, in the case of the heart, can lead to heart disease.
- Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, often leading to tumours and other health problems. Dental infections can contribute to this condition by releasing bacterial toxins which can damage DNA and through triggering an immune response that causes systemic inflammation. Both of these can promote the growth of cancer cells.
- Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can significantly impact a mother’s quality of life. These may be partially attributed to brain inflammation, chronic pain, lack of sleep and degraded self-confidence resulting from poor oral health. Since the brain inflammation factor is rarely considered, it is worth explaining. Inflammation of the brain can be caused by the inflammatory response that chronic gum disease can trigger throughout the body. Long-term brain inflammation can negatively impact mental health.
Good oral health is a critical aspect of overall health, as it can reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Neglecting oral health can strain our immune systems, adversely affecting our overall health. Mothers often put the needs of others before themselves, which increases their risk of developing poor oral health that can lead to feelings of fatigue, illness, and an increased risk of chronic diseases.Therefore, we need to recognise the need for mothers to prioritise oral health to ensure their overall health, happiness, and well-being.
Common chronic dental diseases
Keeping in mind the impact of poor oral health on chronic disease, we need to also consider common chronic oral health problems. These can be mitigated by good oral hygiene and lifestyle choices, which in turn may reduce the incidence of other chronic diseases.
- Tooth decay is a condition where the outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, is damaged by acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. This can cause pain, sensitivity, and infection if left untreated. It can also become a factor contributing to chronic diseases.
- Gum disease is a condition where bacteria builds up in the gums, leading to inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems if left untreated.
- Oral cancer is a type of cancer that can occur in any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. If left untreated, oral cancer can lead to serious health problems, including difficulty speaking, swallowing, or breathing.
Risk factors for chronic dental diseases
- Poor dental hygiene can include inadequate brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Unhealthy diets are typically high in sugar and processed foods. These can contribute to tooth decay, as the sugar fuels bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that erodes tooth enamel.
- Vaping or smoking can delay healing after dental procedures and increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
- Excessive alcohol consumption can dry out the mouth, reducing saliva flow and increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Certain medical conditions, as well as certain health conditions such as diabetes, can affect dental health by reducing the body’s ability to fight infection and heal properly.
How can mothers prevent chronic diseases?
Preventing chronic diseases, especially when you are a mother, requires a multi-faceted approach. It includes healthy lifestyle habits, regular health screenings and check-ups, stress management and mental health support. Here are some methods that can help prevent chronic diseases:
Healthy lifestyle habits
A balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are crucial for preventing chronic diseases. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Regular health screenings and check-ups
Regular health screenings and check-ups can help detect and manage chronic diseases early. Women should schedule regular appointments with their healthcare provider, which may include oral exams, blood pressure checks, blood glucose tests, cholesterol tests, and mammograms.
Regular dental check-ups can help identify and treat early signs of dental issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay, before they become chronic. Your dentist can also advise on maintaining good dental hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing. Your dentist may recommend preventive measures, such as fluoride treatments, dental sealants or night guards if necessary.
Stress management and mental health support
Chronic stress can contribute to developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help reduce stress levels. Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can also be beneficial for managing stress and maintaining mental health.
Healthy mouths and happy mothers
At Leeming Dental, we want to empower mothers in their journey towards optimal health. When mothers improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, they may find it easier to fulfil their multiple roles with vitality and happiness. This is hard to do alone, so it is essential that they and those around them prioritise the simple steps needed to improve oral health. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene, making healthy lifestyle choices, and seeking regular medical and dental check-ups are key to maintaining great health and preventing chronic diseases.