There is an old adage that says “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to Dr. Shawna Hoffert of Red Maple Dental, a practice in Asheville, NC, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, many oral health issues can lead to systemic issues. An illness is said to be systemic when it affects your entire “system”; in other words, your whole body.
The opposite is also true in that a decline in your oral health despite your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums may signal a decline in your overall health and well-being. So it could be said that sick teeth can often indicate a sick body. It is important to safeguard your health by understanding this connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body.
Oral Bacteria Linked To Major Health Problems
We, humans are a biosphere for a myriad of living microscopic organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Although most of the bacteria living in our mouths are harmless to us, it is important to maintain a regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing your teeth at least at least twice daily and flossing everyday to keep these microorganisms in check.
However, when conditions are “right” for these bacteria, usually as a result of neglecting one’s dental hygiene, they can turn minor oral health problems such as periodontitis — more commonly known as gum disease –into major systemic conditions such as heart disease.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Research suggests that a link exists between endocarditis and poor oral health. 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, compromising the muscles of your heart. There is also research of increased risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes when your body is exposed to the bacteria from oral health issues. Doctors have also discovered a link between poor oral health in expecting mothers and their children being born prematurely.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Alternatively, researchers have discovered that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths through related symptoms. For example, gum disease is more prevalent among people with unregulated 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 the presence of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Lost or broken teeth may be a sign of the onset of osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones, making them brittle. Declining oral health is also commonly seen during the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
So your teeth are looking out for you, but what can you do to look out for them? Dr. Hoffert recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms between teeth and nourishes bacteria, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Keeping your body properly hydrated is also a necessity as saliva washes away excess food particles that can form plaque and feeds the bacteria that eat away at our tooth enamel. A healthy diet with very little added sugar is also recommended.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Hoffert at Red Maple Dental in the Asheville, NC area to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Hoffert today call (828)-358-1925 or schedule an appointment online.