It’s time to clear out the Winter blues with some Spring cleaning!
Nothing makes you feel better than having a clean, healthy smile. There’s actually scientific evidence of the importance of staying on top of your oral health to benefit your overall health. It’s called the oral-systemic connection, and we’ll be exploring that concept further in this dental blog.
It is said that the mouth is the “gateway to the body.” That isn’t just referring to the food we ingest. Actually, it is referring to the connection between the health of your mouth and the health of your body.
The separation of the medical and dental industries in our healthcare system is perplexing. It is unusual because the mouth is obviously part of the body. It is not some separate, isolated entity. It is unfortunate because this division has led some to mistakenly assume that oral health problems do not affect the rest of the body. The truth is, you cannot be totally healthy without a healthy mouth!
What is the oral-systemic connection?
This simply means that oral health impacts your overall health, and systemic health (the presence of various diseases and disorders) can affect your oral health. The two are intricately linked. Your mouth is full of important defense mechanisms, like saliva. When unhealthy, your mouth can be full of dangerous bacteria, like those that cause cavities, gum disease, and dental abscesses. If you have poor oral health the likelihood of you having larger health problems goes up significantly.
What is Poor Oral Health?
Poor oral health involves the presence of active dental disease and/or multiple risk factors for dental problems. Most dental diseases are preventable, so there is an element of patient responsibility in poor oral health. Cavities and gum disease are both bacterial infections that progressively get worse over time without help from a dentist.
Consequences of Oral Health Neglect
Most people are aware of the fact that dental problems can cause pain. What many people don’t realize is that you can have severe dental disease without noticeable symptoms. Not every cavity causes a toothache, and gum disease is often silent until a tooth loses so much support that it becomes loose or even falls out!
When poor oral health leads to the loss of teeth, the consequences are many and widely varied. Losing a tooth not only removes a portion of your chewing force; it also creates additional stress on the remaining teeth, which attempt to carry more “weight” than they were made to bear. Neighboring teeth can crack or shift positions or suffer from receding gums, all because you lose a single tooth.
And of course, there is the cosmetic component of losing teeth. Even with the loss of back teeth only, there is a negative impact on the smile and the appearance of the face.
Because chewing is the important first step in digestion, patients who lose multiple teeth can suffer from digestive problems as the result of under-chewed food reaching the stomach.
Infectious and inflammatory diseases in the mouth do not only stay in the mouth. They can spread and affect other areas of the body. In the case of dangerous dental infections, in rare & severe instances, they spread to the airway, bloodstream or brain. This means a tooth infection can literally kill you!
Severe periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which negatively affects your immune system, and increases your risk for most types of cancer. Chronic inflammation is always bad, no matter what part of the body it affects.
Countless scientific research studies show a significant link between oral health and specific systemic diseases, like heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Scientists have found bacteria usually present in gum disease as far away in the body as the heart, spinal column and brain.
Poor oral health in pregnant women has an impact on their babies. Women who have gum disease while pregnant have a higher risk for low birth weight babies than those with good oral health.
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
Since your mouth is the “gateway to your body,” things like proper brushing techniques, diet, and regular visits to the dentist can have a direct influence on your physical, psychological, and social health. That’s why it’s so important to get regular check ups from your dentist.
There’s no better time to visit Space Age Smiles for a professional teeth cleaning. It will help your mood, your self-esteem, and will benefit your overall long term health. Contact our Clear Lake dental office today to schedule your teeth cleaning appointment.