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Why is the link between oral health and overall health so significant?

The condition of the mouth can reflect – and affect – one's overall health. This means that poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have an impact on general health and wellbeing. The inflammatory process that comes with gum diseases allows bacteria easier access from the mouth into the bloodstream and can have an impact on systemic body responses. So improving oral health may result in overall health benefits.

Coronary heart disease is a substantial cause of mortality today – according to the British Heart Foundation "Coronary heart disease is the single most common cause of death in Europe accounting for 1.95 million deaths in Europe each year. Over one in six women (18%) and over one in ten men (11%) die from the disease. It has been shown that heart patients with severe periodontal disease can be up to three times more at risk than their counterparts with normal health. Good oral health care is therefore one important aspect when it comes to the reduction of risk factors for patients at risk of coronary heart diseases."

Statistics also show that 48 million adults in Europe suffer from diabetes and its prevalence is increasing. According to some data, individuals with diabetes have a 50% greater risk of gum disease. The data also indicates that those with Type 2 diabetes are up to three times more likely to develop periodontal disease than people without diabetes. It follows that improving oral health in diabetic patients should be a vital part of their overall treatment.

The charity concerned with premature births in the UK – BLISS - states that The UK has the highest rate of low birth weight babies in Western Europe. Twelve percent of all babies born need some level of special care at birth (about 80,000) and 2.5 per cent of all babies born need some level of neonatal intensive care (about 17,000). Research has shown that when severe gum disease is present, some pregnant women may be more likely to deliver a preterm, low birth-weight baby, so it is now apparent that adopting a good oral care regime is particularly important for women during their pregnancy.

Studies have shown that poor oral health and chronic periodontal (gum) disease has also been linked to other inflammatory diseases as well as strokes, pneumonia and clogging of the arteries and most recently erectile dysfunction!

Mouth cancer seems to be more prominent in people over 40, especially in men although many cases have been reported in younger patients and women. The incidence in the UK is about 6,000 cases and sadly it is on the increase. It has been reported that over 1,800 people die from the disease of which a percentage could have been saved with early detection and treatment. The death rate from oral cancer is higher than cervical cancer and melanoma skin cancer.

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