Oral Health Promotes Overall Health
Your mouth is just as much a part of your body as your left leg, your kidney, or your heart.
In the unique journey of the history of the dental profession, dentistry evolved as a separate medical profession from the rest of medicine. This history is sometimes reflected in the fact that people tend to think of their mouth as separate from the rest of their body.
The truth is that much of your health starts in your mouth. It starts with what you eat and how you take care of your teeth. It starts with how vigilant you are with making sure there isn’t an unhealthy bacterial balance in your gums, and with how well you take care of your teeth.
Oral health supports the prevention of many diseases. At the same time, oral checkups can help with early detection of other diseases.
Here are 7 ways restoring your smile improves your overall health.
1. Restoring missing teeth can help prevent periodontitis.
When you lose a tooth due to decay or a traumatic accident, and treatment is postponed for a lengthy period of time, the alveolar bone (the part of the jawbone that holds the teeth) begins to lose mineral density. There is evidence that this loss in mineral density makes you more susceptible to periodontal bacteria, which increases the risk for even more tooth loss down the road.
2. Restoring missing teeth will preserve your alveolar bone and, therefore, other teeth.
The sooner you restore the missing tooth or teeth, the better for your overall health, oral and otherwise. Since your alveolar bone is the bone that holds your teeth in place, its health is vital to preserving your teeth. A dental implant stimulates the alveolar bone and keeps you from losing mineral density, thereby stabilizing other teeth.
3. Restoring missing teeth will keep other teeth from shifting, positively affecting your bite and stability of those other teeth.
Our teeth support each other.
Not only do our teeth preserve the alveolar bone, which in turn supports your teeth, but our teeth also keep each other in alignment just by being there for each other.
When you lose one tooth, other teeth may start to shift out of place. This is both from alveolar bone loss and from the loss of support from the missing tooth. This cycle of loss is something many people do not think about when they make the decision to postpone a consultation about missing teeth.
Restoring a tooth protects other teeth. It’s a win-win situation for your teeth and your overall health.
4. Preventing periodontitis makes managing diabetes easier.
The link between diabetes and periodontitis is backed by a lot of research. You may already know that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for periodontitis. But periodontitis and gum disease may also make diabetes more difficult to live with. As most people with diabetes have experienced, any infection causes insulin resistance and disrupts blood sugar control. If you have diabetes, making sure you stay on top of gum health will give you a healthier environment with which to manage diabetes.
5. Treating periodontitis in expectant mothers can result in a higher birth rate for their babies.
There is a link between periodontitis and low birth weight. The theory is that oral bacteria releases toxins, which can reach the placenta through the bloodstream. These toxins, called prostaglandins, interfere with healthy birth weight.
Treating periodontitis prevents so many undesirable things!
6. Treating periodontitis may lower the risk of heart disease.
There is evidence of a link between periodontitis and heart disease. The Journal of the American Dental Association’s website states, “The evidence suggests a moderate association—but not a causal relationship—between periodontal disease and heart disease.” It also shows a “direct relationship between heart disease and increasing levels of periodontal disease.”
As with diabetes, many researchers believe that the two diseases affect each other negatively. One theory states that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the association.
7. Some diseases can be detected early and treated through regular dental visits.
Another angle in the whole mouth-body connection is that some diseases can be detected by your dentist.
One example is oral cancer. Tiny white or pink lesions, usually not detectable by the patient, are early signs of oral cancer and easily identified by a dentist during an oral screening. These early indicators of oral cancer do not hurt and are hard to see because they often occur under your tongue or in other out-of-reach places.
By scheduling frequent checkups, we can increase the chance that potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions are caught early.
These are just some of the ways that taking care of your smile helps reduce inflammation and disease in your body. The field of dentistry keeps discovering more and more ways in which mouth health equals overall body health.
If you haven’t been convinced before, we hope this encourages you to visit your dentist and receive the care you need to keep your mouth, heart, and body healthy.