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Oral Health and General Health Are Closely Linked

The World Health Organization recently released a bulletin to draw attention to the link between oral health and overall health and quality of life.
    PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The World Health Organization recently released a bulletin to draw attention to the link between oral health and overall health and quality of life. The organization expressed concern about the way oral health has been treated as a separate and minor concern when it is truly central to overall health, affecting what people eat and how they speak, causing considerable pain and suffering, and affecting personal relationships. They also noted the connections between oral health, and many chronic diseases and conditions. The WHO called for better integration between dentistry and general health care, and to include dental health among the factors for determining overall well-being.

Conditions Directly Affected by Oral Health

Every system of the human body is directly affected by the functions of the mouth, and conditions linked to oral health include:
- Endocarditis - Bacteria that enter the bloodstream through the mouth can damage the valves of the heart.
- Cardiovascular Disease - Heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke may be caused by some forms of gum disease.
- Reduced Fertility - Preliminary studies show women with gum disease may take longer to conceive.
- Low Birth Weight and Premature Birth - Both conditions have been linked to gum disease.
- Diabetes - Diabetes can lower the immune system and lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
- Obesity - For those with toothache or cavities, heavily processed foods that can cause obesity are often the easiest to eat without causing pain.
- HIV/AIDS - Patients with compromised immune systems often develop painful oral lesions that can lead to devastating infections.
- Osteoporosis - Bone loss can cause tooth loss.
- Alzheimer's disease - Loss of teeth before age 35 is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

The WHO stressed that disease is only one part of the picture. Also highlighted in the bulletin was the effects of oral health on social relationships and general well-being. They called for greater awareness of dentistry as a means to keeping children in school, improve nutrition for better development, improving emotional health, strengthening social bonds, and improve sleep. In short, "the greatest contribution of dentistry is to improve quality of life."

If you live in the Philadelphia area and you are curious about the link between your oral health and your overall well-being, please visit the website of Lindsey Marshall, DMD at

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