There is an old saying that tells us “the eyes are a window to the soul.” However, to dentists like Dr. Melvin Benson, Jr. or Dr. Jacob Dunham of Integrated Dental Arts, a respected dental practice in Greeley, CO, the mouth could be looked at as a “window” to your overall health.
In fact, your mouth could also be seen as a “doorway” too since many oral health problems can eventually cause systemic ones. A condition can be referred to as systemic when it affects your whole body — your entire “system.” Your mouth could be trying to tell you something! Learn how to understand this link between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body.
Oral Bacteria Linked To Major Health Problems
Although it is all microscopic, the human body is a habitat for millions of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Many of these living bacteria call our mouths home due to the moisture and warmth. Most of them are harmless to us.
Following a regular oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing at least once daily will usually keep these microorganisms in check. However, when the right conditions for these bacteria are met, often due to not brushing or flossing often enough or properly, these bacteria can cause a relatively minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic health issues such as heart disease.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Medical researchers have discovered a link between poor oral health and endocarditis. Endocarditis is when an infection from one part of your body, such as from an infected tooth moves through the bloodstream to the lining of your heart, damaging the muscles there.
There are also studies that show that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes all increase with exposure to the bacteria from poor oral hygiene. A link has even been established between poor oral health in expectant mothers and the premature births of their babies.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Alternatively, researchers have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths through symptoms. It is an established fact that patients with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to have gum disease. Therefore, the presence of gum disease in a diabetic person, may be a clue that they should have an immediate check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist).
Lesions in the mouth can be a sign of autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. While lost teeth may be a sign of the onset of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease. People that are developing Alzheimer’s Disease are often reported to have a decline in oral health as well.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
So your teeth are trying to look out for you, but what can you do for them? The dentists at Integrated Dental Arts recommend brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Keeping properly hydrated is also crucial as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and neutralizes some of the acids from food that eat away at our tooth enamel. Dentists and doctors both agree that maintaining a healthy diet with very little added sugar can control tooth decay as well as being good for your overall health.
The most important part of a good oral hygiene regimen is scheduling schedule regular dental checkups with Dr. Benson or Dr. Dunham in the Greeley, CO area to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation at Integrated Dental Arts today call 970.281.5972 or schedule an appointment online.