Your Mouth: A Window To Your Overall Health
Have you heard the saying, “the eyes may be the window to the soul?” Well the research shows that your mouth is a window to your body's health. Your oral health is connected to many other health conditions beyond your mouth. Sometimes the first sign of a disease going on in ones body shows up in your mouth. In other cases, infections in your mouth, such as gum disease, can cause problems in other areas of your body. If fact, research indicates that gum disease may be linked to other diseases. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
Here's a look, in detail at some of the diseases and conditions that may be linked to oral health:
- Cardiovascular disease. Research shows that several types of cardiovascular disease may be linked to oral health. These include heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke. Although in some research periodontal disease seems to be associated with heart disease, more studies are needed before the link can be confirmed with certainty.
- Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth. This is why it's vital to maintain excellent oral health before you get pregnant and during your pregnancy.
- Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of gum disease, cavities, tooth loss, dry mouth and a variety of oral infections. Conversely, poor oral health can make your diabetes more difficult to control. Infections may cause your blood sugar to rise and require more insulin to keep it under control.
- HIV/AIDS. Oral problems are very common if you have HIV/AIDS. Common symptoms include ulcers, dry mouth and related painful mucosal lesions. Mouth problems are caused by either fungal, viral or bacterial infections and, in some cases, one of the first signs of AIDS may be severe gum infection. You may also develop persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth.
- Osteoporosis. The first stages of bone loss may show up in your teeth. Systemic loss of bone density in osteoporosis, including bone in the jaw, may create a condition where the bone supporting your teeth is increasingly susceptible to infectious destruction. Your dentist may be able to spot this on a routine clinical examination or with dental X-rays. If bone loss worsens, your dentist can suggest that you discuss the issue with your other health care providers.
- Other conditions. Many other conditions may make their presence known in your mouth before you know anything's wrong. These may include Sjogren's syndrome, certain cancers, eating disorders, syphilis, gonorrhea and substance abuse.
One thing you can do to keep the bacteria in your mouth low so you can help prevent periodontal disease, gum disease, and some of these conditions we have talked about, is good oral health care. One of the main things you can do at home is daily brushing and flossing. Another is to come and see your dentist. It is more important than ever to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums. Here at Legacy Dental we care about your overall health and especially your oral health. When you come in we will do a detailed periodontal risk assessment that will determine your need for further treatment. We hope to see you soon.
Article written by Heather Kennedy. Heather is a dental hygienist at Legacy Dental in Salt Lake City, UT