The connection between the mouth and the rest of the body is no longer under discussion. Numerous systemic diseases have oral manifestations, and vice versa – many general health issues and medications lead to dental problems.
But is the general public aware of these? We explored the awareness of 1110 respondents globally about popular notions on the topic “General vs. Oral Health” like:
Find out the results below.
#1: Oral health is not connected to general health: MYTH
The mouth is the entry point to the digestive and respiratory tracts. Thus, some bacteria from the mouth can easily reach other organs and cause disease. At the same time, systemic conditions, as well as medications for treating them, can lead to dry mouth, tooth decay, gum disease.
It is quite worrying that although the majority of people (64%) realize this fact, one-third of them is not aware of the direct, two-sided connection between oral and general health.
#2: Mouth infections increase the risk of stroke: FACT
When it comes to infections, nearly half of survey participants think that those can increase the risk of brain damage, namely stroke.
Science confirms. Several studies found that people who have had a stroke are most likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one.
#3: Red and sore tongue can be a symptom of vitamin deficiencies: FACT
Surprisingly, over 70% of DentaVox respondents correctly recognize red and sore tongue as an indicator for lacking certain vitamins. What other symptoms can point to vitamin deficiencies, see below.
#4: Gum disease increases the chance of heart attack: FACT
As an incubator for bacteria, gum disease can cause damage to numerous body organs. However, respondents do not recognize it as a factor for increasing the risk of a heart attack.
In fact, Harvard warns that people with periodontal disease have a 2-3 times higher risk of a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular event. It is still under research, though, if the connection is direct or indirect (through shared risk factors such as smoking or unhealthy diet).
#5: The oral plaque bacteria cannot reach other organs: MYTH
Yet again, it can. And 60% of DentaVox respondents are aware of this fact.
As mentioned above, a large number of scientific publications have suggested that oral plaque bacteria and the expected infections caused by it are contributing factors to a variety of systemic diseases. Remember this next time when you consider skipping your oral hygiene routine or teeth cleaning appointment.
#6: Iron-deficiency anemia might have oral manifestations: FACT
Iron-deficiency anemia can indeed present with oral findings, as stated by 70% of survey participants. Common symptoms include:
- Atrophic glossitis – when the small bumps on the tongue (papillae) are worn away
- Magenta tongue – purplish-red discoloration of the tongue
- Angular cheilitis – inflammation of one or both corners of the mouth
- Burning of the lips and tongue
#7: Medications can affect oral health: FACT
Nearly 80% of DentaVox survey participants believe that medications can have an effect on oral health. And this is true. Here are some examples of oral issues that can be caused by pharmaceuticals.
#8: Smokeless tobacco cannot cause oral cancer: MYTH
It is a common misconception (in 21% of respondents) that smokeless tobacco is harmless in terms of causing oral cancer.
The truth is different. Harmful chemicals including nicotine are ingested through smokeless tobacco, and more than 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been found in it.
#9: There is no way for mouth bacteria to cause respiratory problems: MYTH
According to 26% of survey participants, the bacteria in the mouth cannot lead to respiratory issues. Science disagrees.
When oral bacteria travel from the mouth to the lungs, they can cause pneumonia or increase the risk of chronic respiratory conditions. A study by the American Academy of Periodontology found that people with respiratory diseases had worse periodontal health than those with healthy lungs.
#10: Fluctuating hormone levels can increase the risk of gum disease: FACT
Over 60% of DentaVox respondents believe that hormonal changes can lead to a greater risk of periodontitis. This is actually true. Such fluctuations happen e.g. during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, and are linked to the temporarily increased risk and severity of gum disease.
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
Stats source: DentaVox, 20 Questions: General vs. Oral Health
Base: 1110 respondents (global sample)
Period: 29/09 – 16/11/2020