Dental Health: The Mouth-Body Connection
There is a definite connection between your oral health and your overall well-being. Any physician who is keeping current on research findings related to the mouth-body connection is beginning to pay more attention to patient dental histories as they treat their patients. A trend that is rising in healthcare arenas is to approach patient care in a more holistic way.
Over the past few years, the links between oral problems, heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis have become a source of interest and continue to provide insights into how the body-mouth connection works. Evidence indicates that people who suffer from gum disease are likely to also have another chronic condition.
Your doctor and dentist know that infections often start in the mouth when bacteria accumulates around the teeth and gums. In response, the immune system reacts resulting in the gums becoming inflamed. This type of inflammation can spread through the rest of the body in cases where it is not cured or managed.
Taking good care of your mouth is important for many reasons. For example, a healthy mouth may help you ward off medical issues but on the flip side, an unhealthy mouth may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor. The case for good oral hygiene keeps getting stronger. Understand the importance of oral health — and its connection to your overall health. Make sure to see your dentist regularly!
When your dentist and doctor stress the importance of good dental hygiene, there is a good reason.
Oral Health and Heart Disease
Your doctor is more likely to ask about your dental hygiene than ever before. There are interesting correlations between periodontitis and heart disease. WebMD reports that 91 percent of patients suffering from heart disease has also been diagnosed with periodontal disease. These two health challenges share certain risk factors such as excess weight, poor diet, and smoking.
One theory that explains this association is that inflammation in the mouth is responsible for inflamed blood vessels, having a causative impact. When blood vessels are inflamed, blood pressure rises. This perfect storm can lead to a higher risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
Oral Health and Diabetes
Your physician now knows that diabetes and periodontitis appear to be strongly tied together, perhaps even more so than heart disease and gum disease. There is strong evidence that the inflammation that starts in your mouth actually disrupts your body’s ability to manage blood sugar. Diabetes is defined as an inability to convert sugar into the energy you need due to low levels of insulin.
Essentially, these two conditions feed each other, worsening both problems. High blood sugar increases the chances of gum infection. If there is a silver lining to be found in this relationship, it is that controlling one condition can help improve the other.
Oral Health and Osteoporosis
While a physician may disagree with their peers about the connection between osteoporosis and oral health with some controversy surrounding the connection between these two conditions, many researchers believe there is a connection. The main link between these health challenges relates to bone health. Most women with osteoporosis have gum disease.
Where this association gets controversial is when you consider the fact that gum disease compromises the jawbone and osteoporosis effects bones in your arms and legs. Researchers are currently studying possible connections between periodontitis and other bones in the body.
Considering the obvious connection between your dental health and serious physical challenges, it is more important than ever to maintain good oral health and see your dentist on a regular basis. The American Dental Association recommends using an antimicrobial mouthwash to control the bacteria in your mouth and prevent infection that can lead to other problems. Regular checkups and meticulous oral hygiene practices as prescribed by your dentist are essential for maintaining a healthy mouth.
Mayo Clinic recommends these oral care tips to ensure that you keep your mouth as healthy as possible. You should brush your teeth twice a day or more when possible. Flossing daily is also important.
A mistake that too many people make is to keep their toothbrush too long. Replace your toothbrush at least once every three months. Be sure to buy a toothbrush that is labeled as having soft bristles. Otherwise, you can actually damage sensitive gum tissues.
Your diet can also make a big difference. Sugar is the enemy for your teeth and gums. Fresh vegetables are a good source of antioxidants. There is no substitute for eating a healthy diet and maintaining healthy dental care.