Recent scientific discoveries continue to connect the dots between dental health and overall health. You may be surprised as you learn more about these links. It turns out that in may cases your mouth can be a window to the health status of different parts of your body.
Importance of Regular Dental Checkups
For some serious health issues, dentists can often spot some of the first signs of disease while examining your mouth. With regular dental checkups, Dr. Ratcliff may spot symptoms such as swollen gums, other gum iregularities, mouth ulcers and infections that can be signs of other systemic problems going on.
Some of the health problems associated with these symptoms include:
- Heart Disease
- Foot and Mouth disease
- Oral Cancer
While these symptoms are not always the result of something more serious, regular dental health checkups will ensure that these potentially problematic signs are followed up on a regular basis.
Periodontal Gum Disease and Your Health
Aside from indications that can be caught with regular checkups, in other instances an infection in your mouth – like periodontal gum disease – can cause issues in other areas of your body.
Bacteria in the Bloodstream
Periodontal gum disease can allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream and cause major issues elsewhere in your body. Your mouth is crawling with bacteria. Usually these bacteria are kept under control with proper oral health care, like daily brushing and flossing. However, gum disease can provide bacteria access into your bloodstream. Medications or treatments that limit saliva flow or disrupt normal bacteria balance in your mouth can also lead to oral changes, making it easier for bacteria to get into your bloodstream. Many researchers believe that bacteria and inflammation from your mouth are directly linked to other serious health problems in the rest of your body.
Health Issues That Stem From Periodontal Gum Disease
If treated early, it is unlikely that your gum disease will have a serious effect on other areas of your health. However, if you do not treat your gum disease it can possibly lead to some very serious issues such as:
Research demonstrates that several types of cardiovascular disease can be linked to oral health. These include: clogged arteries, heart disease, stroke and bacterial endocarditis. Some even believe that bacteria from gum disease enters your bloodstream and travels through your arteries directly to your heart, affecting the entire cardiovascular system. More research is needed to conclusively prove these theories, but the evidence is rapidly mounting.
The first stages of bone loss may also show up in your teeth. Dr. Ratcliff may be able to spot this during routine dental X-rays. If bone loss continues to worsen, we may suggest you discuss the issue with your other healthcare providers.
Diabetes can increase your risk of cavities, gum disease, dry mouth, tooth loss and a variety of oral infections. Poor oral health can also make your diabetes more difficult to control. Infections can cause blood sugar to rise and require more insulin to keep it under control.
Periodontal disease (gum disease) has been linked to premature birth. Some research suggests disease-causing organisms in a pregnant woman’s mouth may wind up in the placenta or amniotic fluid, potentially causing premature birth. Treating periodontal disease during pregnancy may be too late, because infection may already have spread in the woman’s body. It is vital to maintain optimal oral health before you get pregnant.
Prevent Health Issues With Regular Dental Care
The importance of regular dental checkups has become evident over the years, and at Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry we want to help keep you and your family safe from dangerous health concerns. That is why we recommend planning your dental checkups at least every six months so we can keep an eye on things and make sure your dental health is in great shape!
HOW YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR ORAL HEALTH
Resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day. And make Dr. Ratcliff’s Arlington dental practice an integral part of your lifelong oral health. You’re making an investment in the future of your overall health to help you lead a long and healthy life.
* Portions of this information, courtesy of the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). ©1998-2007. All rights reserved.