Many physicians are taking a more holistic approach to their patients’ overall health. As we study the relationship between oral health and its relationship with certain types of diseases it becomes clear that your oral hygiene can have direct effects on your entire body. Bacteria that build up on teeth make gums become inflamed. Over time, the inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. The result is severe gum disease, known as periodontitis, which can negatively impact the rest of your body.
The working relationship between diabetes and gum disease may be the strongest of all the connections between the mouth and body. Inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. To further complicate matters, high blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections.
Though the reasons are not fully understood, it’s clear that gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% with no heart disease. The two conditions have several risk factors in common, such as unhealthy diet and excess weight. The plaque-causing bacteria activate the release of harmful clotting elements and enzymes which contribute to heart disease as well as stroke.
Studies show a direct relationship between oral disease and pre-term birth for expectant mothers. Also, pregnancy is a time when the mouth becomes more acidic as a result of blood chemistry and hormonal changes. With so much risk, the oral health of every mother should be evaluated before, during and after pregnancy.
At your visit, we will examine your palate, gums, and other oral tissues, looking for growths that can indicate cancer-particularly important for those who smoke or chew tobacco. When you come in for your regular dental exam, we’re checking more than just your teeth. We have your whole health in mind, too.