Today, most physicians understand the link between oral health and body health. This applies to a gamut of health conditions ranging from heart disease to diabetes. So, it’s increasingly likely that if you have a medical condition, your doctor may refer you to an oral health specialist to rule out gingivitis or periodontal disease, both of which can affect your heart health. In this article, we’ll talk about the unique mouth-body connection and what it means.
If you have plaque and tartar deposits in your mouth, it results in the bacterial build-up in your teeth, often resulting in infection of the gums. The immune system then moves in to attack the infection, resulting in inflammation of the gums. This inflammation continues unless the infection is treated and brought under control.
This inflammation can eat away at the gums and the bone structure of your teeth, resulting in gum disease, known as periodontitis. This inflammation in your mouth can cause problems in the rest of your body. Here are some health conditions that can be caused by poor oral health…
1) Oral Health and Heart Disease: About 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis. It is now clear that gum disease and heart disease go hand-in-hand. The risk factors for both conditions are common and include smoking, an unhealthy diet, and obesity. It is now believed that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels. These inflamed blood vessels cause less blood to travel between the heart and your body, resulting in an increase in blood pressure. Also, plaque in the teeth can break off and travel to the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or a stroke.
2) Oral Health and Diabetes: The link between poor oral health and diabetes is extremely strong. It is now believed that inflammation that starts in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Patients with periodontal disease are more prone to diabetes because inflammation in the mouth impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin. High blood sugar then makes you even more prone to infections, including gum infections, and the cycle continues. However, treating the periodontal disease can help bring your diabetes under control.
3) Oral Health and Pregnancy: Infection and inflammation in the mouth can interfere with fetal development in the womb. It may also result in babies born prematurely or with low birth weight. These babies are then prone to lung conditions, heart conditions, and learning disorders. Also, hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk for periodontitis. Doctors recommend a thorough oral health exam before a woman gets pregnant or as soon as she becomes pregnant.
4) Oral Health and Osteoporosis: Both osteoporosis and periodontitis have one thing in common – bone loss. Some studies have shown that women who have osteoporosis are more likely to have gum disease. A theory is being tested that suggests that inflammation caused by periodontitis can weaken bone in other parts of the body.
5) Oral Health and Smoking: It has been found that a smoker’s risk of severe gum disease is three times higher than someone who does not smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, which interferes with your gum’s ability to fight infection. Not only this, smoking delays healing, so dental procedures, and oral surgery takes longer to heal.
6) Oral Health and Other Conditions: While the impact of oral health on body health and vice versa is a relatively new area of study, it is thought that there is a mouth-body connection between certain other disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and obesity.
As more research is done about the mouth-body connection, it will result in greater insight into how oral health can impact body health and vice versa. As the first step in your quest towards optimal oral and overall health, you should visit your trusted dentist for a regular dental check-up at least every six months.
At the Harbour Pointe Oral Surgery & Advanced Dental Implant Center, we specialize in both preventive and prescriptive dental treatment. We ensure that we take good care of your teeth and gums so that you have optimum overall health. We treat each patient individually and holistically and offer a range of dental treatments and procedures.
So, the next time you have a dental problem that needs to be addressed, visit Harbour Pointe and rest easy, knowing that you are in safe hands and on the road to renewed health!
For more information about the unique mouth-body connection and optimal oral health, consult Dr. Brian Hart and
Dr. Kathleen Isdith at 425-353-1009 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website www.HarbourPointeOralSurgery.net for more information.