Oral Health And Overall Health: The Connection Is Direct…
Aging does not cause oral diseases. Indeed, people of any age can experience an oral disease. But oral diseases are more prevalent with age. That is why regular dental visits, whether you have natural or artificial teeth, are important for a lifetime of good oral health.
The stakes are high. According to Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, “What amounts to a ‘silent epidemic’ of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens – poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups.”1 In addition, the report says, “Individuals who are medically compromised or who have disabilities are at greater risk for oral diseases, and, in turn, oral diseases further jeopardize their health.”
The oral disease with the most serious consequence is oral cancer. Oral cancer may appear as a red or white sore or bump that does not heal within 1 or 2 weeks, and which may or may not be painful. Other signs of oral cancer include swollen lymph nodes of the neck, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.
The risk for oral cancer increases with age, tobacco use, frequent use of alcohol, and exposure to sunlight.
Oral disease can also cause swelling and discomfort, altered taste and bad breath, while also detracting from your good looks.
Those symptoms can result from changes in the gums, a reduced immune system, an increase in the number of systemic diseases – such as bleeding disorders, diabetes, heart valve problems, certain cardiovascular conditions, stroke and artificial joints, as well as a greater use of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
1 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services.