While most people understand that a regular oral health routine at home can help prevent cavities and improve their smiles, they may not be as aware of how dental health can actually impact their overall health.
In fact, if you really want to get into it, certain conditions in the mouth can provide important warning signs for other serious medical conditions.
The body is a connected organism, which means that when something is happening in one part, it can lead to some very specific conditions in another. At the very least, it will leave tell-tale signs that something is going on and requires our attention.
For example, some studies have suggested that people with gum disease are nearly 40% more likely to have some other kind of chronic condition on top of it.
Most of these studies do just draw links and connections between them. They’re not saying that one causes the other. But it’s important to realize that the body is a connected system, and understanding these connections could lead to better health down the road.
What Conditions Are Linked to Dental Problems?
There are several conditions that some studies have linked to periodontal disease or other dental issues, including:
- Diabetes – Some research suggests that the inflammations that start in the mouth as a result of the bacteria there may weaken the body’s ability to effectively control the blood sugar level or properly use insulin.
- Heart issues and cardiovascular disease – If the bacteria in your mouth gets into your blood stream, in may start to clog arteries, possibly even leading to stroke. One study even said that up to 91% of people who have some form of heart disease also suffer from periodontitis.
- Respiratory issues – Some people with gum disease may even be at a higher risk for respiratory infection (like pneumonia).
- Premature births – Many organizations are still looking into this, but there is growing evidence that periodontitis may be linked with low birth weights and premature births.
So, What Can You Do About It?
This may seem pretty dire, but there is something you can do about it.
When it comes to the connection between your dental and overall health, prevention is key.
Cavities and periodontitis are both caused by infections, and it’s these same infections that may eventually lead serious health problems.
Any infection is going to tax your immune system. Your body will naturally try and fight it, but it may not be up to the task. And if it is overly taxed, it can mean that other infections taking place in your body may also go unchecked.
So, what is the key to prevention?
One, a thorough and effective at-home oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. This will help ensure that the bacteria that is naturally residing in your mouth will not escape into the rest of your body and start causing problems.
The second is a regular visit to the dentist. If the infections in your mouth go unchecked, you may start noticing things like pain, fever, and other similar symptoms. As the days go by, you may start to feel worse, and if you go to a doctor, what are the chances that he or she will check your teeth to find the source of the problem?
Your regular dental exam gives us the opportunity to see what’s going on with your health. We have the high-tech equipment and a lot of experience so we can spot the warning signs and prescribe the best treatments to correct any problems.
Your exam will include detailed digital x-rays, thorough cleanings, and oral cancer assessments.
It doesn’t take long to determine if there is something that needs further attention, and we’ll work closely with you to help you understand all of your treatment options.