It has been said that “the eyes are a window to the soul.” However, to dentists like Dr. Nish Patel of Manatee Advanced Dentistry, a respected dental practice in Bradenton, FL, the mouth could be considered a “window” to your overall health. In fact, your mouth could also be seen as a “door” as well since many oral health problems lead to systemic ones. A condition can be termed systemic when it affects your entire “system” — your whole body.
The reverse is also true in that many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health, even if you are following the recommended home dental care routine. You can protect your health and your teeth by understanding this connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body.
Oral Bacteria Linked To Major Health Problems
The human body is host for an entire ecosystem of living microorganisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth, although most of these are completely harmless to us. However, some of these bacteria that are living in our mouths can cause tooth decay, gum disease and abscesses — serious and painful infections in the roots of your teeth.
Following a regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually keep these microorganisms in check. However, when the right conditions for these bacteria are met, often due to not brushing or flossing enough or properly, these bacteria can turn minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic health issues.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Medical research has established a link between poor oral health and endocarditis. Endocarditis is when an infection from one part of your body, such as from an infected tooth, spreads to the lining of your heart through your bloodstream, damaging the heart muscles.
It has also been established that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes all increase with exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues like abscesses and gum disease. Researchers have also determined a correlation between poor oral health in expectant mothers and the premature births of their children.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Alternatively, doctors have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions show themselves in through symptoms we experience in our mouths. It is a well known fact that gum disease is more common among patients with uncontrolled diabetes and its presence can be an indication that a person should have a check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). Lesions in the mouth can be an indicator of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may be a sign of osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones and makes them brittle. Declining oral health is also commonly observed during the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
Dr. Patel recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth, leading to tooth decay.
Keeping properly hydrated is also important to good oral health because saliva washes away excess food particles that can combine with saliva to form plaque. It also neutralizes some of the bacterial digestive acids that can eat away at our tooth enamel. Dentists also recommend a healthy diet with very little added sugar in order to limit food to the bacteria.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Patel at Manatee Advanced Dentistry in the Bradenton, FL area to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Patel today call 941.209.4315 or schedule an appointment online.