“Stick out your tongue, let me see how you are.”
This phrase from the physician of yesteryear is closer to the truth than thought up until recently. As the bodies’ main port of entry, there is now the rationale that there is a strong relationship between our dental health and our general health.
So before you jump up to brush and floss, take a moment to convince yourself with some of the most noted connections listed below.
1. Heart Disease and Stroke
For many, these are dreaded terms. So get out your brush and floss?! We know that bacteria from the mouth can enter into the bloodstream through the gums. Many of the same bacteria in gum disease have also been found while cleaning off valves and arteries affected by heart disease. Not to mention, studies show that people affected by gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease.
So yes! Get out your brush and floss! Read more on the link with heart disease here.
Nearly 26 million Americans are affected by diabetes. A strong link exists between diabetes and gum disease. As the gums become diseased they loosen from the teeth and create deep pockets in which infectious bacteria can enter and grow into even more destructive bacterial colonies which can in turn spur on diabetes symptoms.
Furthermore, this one is a two-way street, as having diabetes is a strong risk factor for developing periodontal problems.
While cancers of the mouth and throat seem to be the obvious problem here, some medical researchers believe that many types of cancers throughout the entire human body may be linked with dental disease. Though still under research and unknown exactly how these two are linked, the theory revolves around the inflammation process, the oral bacteria and the weakened capabilities of our immune response.
A lot more research is needed in this areas to determine the strength of any link.
4. Weight Loss
It’s no mystery to anyone who has ever suffered from loose teeth or a bad toothache, it’s hard to eat! So what’s so bad about weight loss?! If we aren’t getting the nutrients we need our bodies become frail and defenses go down setting us up for many other ailments that can deteriorate our general health.
This is likely to be more of an issue with infirm patients, but can have a huge impact.
5. Mental Health
Mild anxiety can balloon quickly when we find ourselves in the situation of wondering how our breath smells or smile appears in a professional setting. Today more than ever the work force is competitive, at times even condemnatory right down to our oral health statuses and appearances. The same can be said of non-professional settings.
We easily become self conscious and may even step back from any social settings that could potentially harm our self esteem.
In some cases, poor dental health can even lead to depression. Stress and depression are in turn often the root of many health conditions.
Some major studies have shown a noteworthy link between gum disease and premature birth. The Journal of the ADA found that women with chronic gum disease in pregnancy were at 4-7 times greater risk of delivering premature and underweight babies, when compared to expectant mothers with healthy gums.
It was also noted that those mothers with more severe gum problems (periodontitis) delivered the most prematurely, closer to the 32 week mark. While scientifically it is unproven if treating the gingivitis and periodontitis reduces the risk of preterm birth or not, it’s at least safe to say the prevention is always the best idea!
So if this list leaves you wondering just how you might dodge these not-so-appealing health links, here’s a few simple ways:
- Make a daily oral health routine and stay committed to it.
- Likewise make a weekly general health routine and stay committed to it.
- Use fluoride products to help minimize bacteria and strengthen enamel.
- Brush and floss to intentionally remove plaque.
- Limit snacks, particularly those high in simple sugars, and eat a balanced diet.
- If you use tobacco in any form, quit or get help to quit.
- Be conscious of things happening in your mouth, inspect it periodically.
- Likewise with the rest of your body.
- Visit the dental office and physician regularly.