Links between Oral Health and your General Health

In today’s day and age there are more valid reasons why we need to brush, floss and see our dentist or hygienist on a regular basis (and that is not just for a healthy mouth). There are an increasing amount of studies that show the strong link between oral health and serious chronic diseases, these are providing more and more information on how our oral health is essential to our general health and well being.

When you lay back and look at the T.V. in one of our rooms with your mouth wide open, our dental professionals are checking for much more than just cavities. Your mouth tells us many things, particularly the health of your gums. There are a number systemic conditions that can show signs in your mouth before you even feel any symptoms, this can range from stress, the flu, vitamin deficiencies, diabetes to oral cancers.

We have complied a small list of medical conditions which have a close relationship with our oral health.

Medical conditions are linked to oral health

The health of your mouth can contribute to various diseases and conditions, some of the most commonly known links include:

  • Endocarditis – An infection of the inner lining of the heart. This typically occurs when bacteria from your mouth enter the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas of the heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Bacteria in the mouth not only causes inflammation in the mouth but can also cause inflammation throughout the whole body, including the arteries. Research shows that inflammation due to bacteria plays a role in clogged arteries and blood clots
  • Stroke – Usually an obstruction or clot within a blood vessel which supplies blood to brain. Commonly a condition developed by fatty deposits lining the vessel walls in turn causing hardening of the arteries. There is a significant association between periodontal disease (gum disease) and stroke. Poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease can cause bacteria to enter the blood, this means that the risk associated with stroke is directly proportional to the amount of inflammation and infection in the mouth.
  • Pregnancy and birth – Infections and inflammation in the body play a role in premature birth rates. There is strong support that shows the association between periodontal disease and premature birth and low birth weight. Maintaining a healthy mouth will help grow a healthy baby, it is important to see your dental professional before and during pregnancy.
  • Diabetes – Being a diabetic increases the risk of developing gum disease but chronic gum disease may actually make diabetes more difficult to control, this is because consistent infection can cause insulin resistance, in turn disrupting blood sugar control.
  • Respiratory diseases – There is a clear association between respiratory conditions and oral health with many studies showing good evidence that improved dental hygiene and regular professional care help to reduce the risk and progression of many respiratory diseases, especially for adults living in nursing homes.
  • Dementia – Impaired delayed memory and early stage Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to be associated with periodontal disease. There is a growing amount of research showing links between Dementia, Alzheimers and impaired memory.
  • Osteoporosis – Medications used for the treatment of osteoporosis can cause rare but severe damage to the jaw bone. This damage is known as osteonecrosis, it can occur spontaneously but can also occur after dental procedures, it is imperative that you tell you dental professional if you are taking any bisphosphonate medication.
  • Crohn’s Disease – inflammatory disease that can affect any region of the gastrointestinal tract including the mouth. Often the oral manifestation appears the same as in the intestine. Examples of oral signs are swelling of the lips or tongue and recurrent ulcers. Some of the medications for crohn’s disease can contribute to a dry mouth making you more susceptible to dental decay and infections.

Medical conditions that first show signs or symptoms in the mouth can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune Diseases such a Crohn’s Disease
  • Anemia
  • Depression and Stress
  • Leukemia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease

The evidence is stacking up when it comes to the links between the health of our mouth and our overall full body health and wellness, but still many people are unaware of the importance of healthy teeth and gums and the importance of regular check ups and preventative appointments with your dental practitioner. Here at Riverside Dental Spa we pride ourselves in working towards the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay because we know that the health of our mouth is a key element to our overall health and well being. All of our practitioners attend regular continuing education seminars to ensure that our techniques and knowledge are up to date. This allows us to be confident and competent in providing high quality dental health care and broadens our awareness and knowledge in the signs, symptoms and implication of these common medical conditions and oral health.