By Dr. Dennis Lucas –
Did you know that your oral health is connected to many other health conditions beyond your mouth? Your mouth is a window to your body’s overall health.
Sometimes the first sign of a disease shows up in your mouth. In other cases, infections in your mouth, such as periodontal (gum) disease, can cause problems in other areas of your body.
An estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious diseases that result in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In worst cases, teeth are lost.
The Mouth – Body Connection
Your mouth is normally teeming with bacteria. Usually you can keep these bacteria under control with good oral healthcare such as daily brushing, flossing, and your routine dental visits. When your gums are healthy, bacteria in your mouth usually don’t enter your bloodstream. However, gum disease may provide bacteria a port of entry into your bloodstream.
Periodontal diseases are inflammatory conditions that were once thought to have affected the mouth alone. Emerging evidence has changed this view and now suggests that periodontal disease may play a role in numerous conditions that impact systemic (general) health and well being.
Diseases That May Be Linked to Oral Health
The signs and symptoms of many potentially life-threatening diseases appear in the mouth first. Here’s a look at some of the diseases and conditions that may be linked to oral health:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pregnancy and birth
Research has shown, and experts agree, that there is an association between periodontal diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.
Have a family member with periodontal disease? Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting periodontal disease of another family member.
It is important that patients diagnosed with periodontal disease work with their dentists and hygienist to manage and control this serious bacterial infection.
Healthy Mouth… Healthy Body
Dental hygiene along with living a healthy lifestyle requires making good choices. Pairing a few well-known, healthy-lifestyle habits with your daily oral health regimen may also help reduce your risk for periodontal disease.
Eat and Drink Up
Eating a balanced diet leads to proper nutrition and helps keep the body running effectively. Studies have also shown that certain foods can promote teeth and gum health. Foods containing omega-3, calcium, Vitamin D and even honey have all been shown to reduce the incidence of severity of periodontal disease.
Hit the Gym
Researchers found that subjects who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis then those that did not exercise.
We all know that stress can lead to a variety of health complications. The body releases cortisol when it is experiencing stress. Cortisol can intensify the destruction of the gums and bone due to periodontal disease.
Kick the Habit
Smoking is not only a leading cause of respiratory and cardiovascular disease in the United States, it is also a major risk factor for periodontal disease.
Here are Some Simple Ways to Combat Periodontal Disease:
Brush & Floss Daily
Take your time and do it right! Electric toothbrushes are best, and the sound wave activity of the Sonicare bursts bacteria cells!
Use an Anti-Bacterial Mouthwash
It helps to disinfect the teeth and gums, and reduces the number of bacteria.
Straighten Your Teeth
Crowded teeth are nearly impossible to keep clean and floss. Orthodontic treatment can greatly reduce inflammation and periodontal disease. Invisalign is often a simple way to accomplish this.
Routine Dental Visits
Professional cleanings and checkups make you feel good, look good, and could be a lifesaver!
An Investment in Your Overall Health
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums, the relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides even more. Resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day.
You’re making an investment in your overall health, not just for now, but for the future, too!