A stellar smile means more than having straight teeth and glistening pearly
whites. There is a connection between the health of your mouth, teeth,
and gums and your overall wellbeing, and many oral conditions can offer
clues about other systemic problems. This is because your mouth has tons
of bacteria, although this is usually kept in check with the body’s
immune system and good oral hygiene. Without regular brushing and flossing,
though, the mostly harmless bacteria can continue to develop into destructive
bacteria, and you can develop oral infections, including gingivitis or
tooth decay. Gingivitis is only reversible in the earliest stages and
left unchecked, it eventually progresses to severe gum disease called
periodontitis, in which the teeth can fall out as the gum pockets continue
to grow and the tooth gradually loosen.
Oral health conditions may contribute to these systemic conditions:
Heart disease: Certain research suggests how cardiovascular conditions, like clogged arteries
or stroke, could be linked to gum disease and infections caused by oral bacteria.
Pregnancy complications: Severe gum disease (periodontitis) is linked to premature birth and low
birth weight in pregnant women.
Pneumonia: Bacteria from the mouth may be pulled into the lungs, leading to respiratory
diseases like pneumonia.
Conditions Affecting Your Oral Health
On the flipside, your oral health may be aggravated by certain health conditions,
particularly if your body is immunocompromised. If you have these health
conditions, it’s very important to consult with your dentist to
formulate an oral hygiene regimen to protect yourself as much as you possibly can.
These systemic conditions might affect your oral health:
Diabetes: All types of diabetes reduce the body’s resistance to infection,
putting your gums at risk, as well. Likewise, gum disease can make it
harder to control your blood sugar levels.
HIV/AIDS: Oral health conditions, including mucosal lesions, are more common in those
with a compromised immune system, such as in those with HIV/AIDS.
Osteoporosis: Because this disease weakens the bones, it can cause bone loss in the jaw
and lead to tooth loss. Also, the drugs used to treat the disease can
damage the jawbone.
Dementia: Oral health worsens as the Alzheimer’s disease progresses, and without
a diligent caretaker, those with dementia may not be able to practice
oral hygiene on their own.
Protecting Your Oral Health
Whether you have an oral health condition
or a systemic problem that can impact your mouth, you can protect yourself
from further damage by practicing regular brushing, flossing, and having
regular dental checkups and cleanings. Likewise, it’s wise to eat
a healthy, low-sugar diet and avoid tobacco use. Your dentist can advise
you of how you specifically can improve your oral health, but it may also
include using a water pick, an electric toothbrush, or mouthwash to remove
leftover food particles. You should also ensure your toothbrush and other
oral hygiene supplies are in good condition, and replace your toothbrush
at least every 3 months, or sooner if the bristles are worn down.
at Austell Dental Associates by calling (770) 467-3888 to schedule your
initial dental checkup and cleaning.