Your mouth is connected to the rest of your body. No kidding. So why do so many people disassociate a dental visit from medical care? The truth of the matter is that a dental checkup is a valuable tool in a whole health plan.
The Heart of the Matter
A growing body of research shows that dental health and heart health go hand in hand. Studies have shown that unhealthy bacteria in the biofilm on the teeth are often found in plaque deposits in the heart and its major blood vessels. Inflammation in the gums has been associated with inflammation elsewhere in the body, which in turn has been associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. While treating gum disease is not a proven way to prevent a heart attack from ever happening, checking for gum disease is a great tool as part of a heart health assessment.
Sugar–Not Just About Cavities
When one thinks about sugar in regards to teeth, cavities are what generally springs to mind. However, blood sugar control in a diabetic patient may be a much bigger issue for a healthy mouth. Poorly controlled blood sugar impairs wound healing. Wounds in the mouth are no different than wounds elsewhere in a diabetic patient; they can be much more difficult to treat. So, the diabetic dental patient needs careful management, particularly when suffering from gum disease or wounds in the mouth.
There can be a number of reasons why a patient might have a depressed immune system. In addition to persons who simply suffer from a weakened immune system, patients on anti-rejection medication following organ transplant, and patients on chemotherapy are more likely to have infections in the mouth. Dental caries, aka cavities, are caused by infectious processes, and need to be watched for carefully in people with less than optimal immune systems.
A Moment Too Soon
When rushing to prenatal appointments on a regular basis, it can be easy for the busy mom-to-be to overlook a stop at the dentist. However, growing evidence shows a correlation between gingivitis (gum disease) and premature births. For the health of the growing baby, it is important to retain good oral care habits, including using fluoride products to keep teeth strong, and treat any gum and mouth problems promptly. It’s good for mommy and baby.
United in the Person
Overall health and oral health are linked, inevitably, as they both reside in the same individual. A mouth-body connection is no less real than a mind-body connection.