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Your Mouth: It Affects Your Overall Health

Many recent studies confirm that problems with teeth and gums can affect your overall health. Research shows diabetes, pneumonia, and possibly heart disease and stroke can be related to the health of your mouth. That is why it is important for seniors and those who care for seniors to make daily mouth care a priority.

The Canadian Dental Association defines oral health as:

"A state of the oral and related tissues and structures that contributes positively to the physical, mental and social well-being, and enjoyment of life's possibilities, by allowing the individual to speak, eat, and socialize, unhindered by pain, discomfort or embarrassment."

A Healthy Mouth, A Healthy Body

Gum disease and tooth decay are bacterial infections. Bacteria from infections in your mouth can be carried through the bloodstream to other parts of your body.

Diabetes: Diabetes puts people at risk for gum disease because high blood sugars make mouth tissues prone to infection and inflammation. As well, gum infections make it difficult to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Bottom line–the health of your mouth affects your ability to control diabetes, and vice versa.

The Canadian Diabetes Association is an excellent source of information on dental care and diabetes.

Pneumonia Link: Mouth bacteria can be drawn into your lungs when you breathe and cause a serious type of pneumonia. This is a concern for those in nursing homes because many people in nursing care die of pneumonia. Oral disease can increase the risk of pneumonia by three to six times. This risk continues to increase in combination with other factors such as poor overall health, swallowing problems, dry mouth and feeding dependency. It is important for those caring for seniors to help them with daily mouth care to reduce the risk of oral disease that can lead to pneumonia.

Visit the Oral Health section of Health Canada for more information on how a healthy mouth can contribute to your overall health.

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You can also do a search or contact us at 1-866-522-2122 (toll-free) Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30, local time.

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