There is an old saying that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to Dr. Benjamin Stevens and other dentists, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, your mouth can unfortunately be a “door” as many oral health issues can lead to systemic issues. An issue is termed systemic when it affects your entire system; in other words, your body.
The reverse is also true in that many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health, even though you may be putting forth your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is vital to protect yourself by understanding this connection between your mouth and your body. Your teeth and your life may depend on it.
Although it is all microscopic, we humans are an ecosystem for an entire ecosystem of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Our mouths are home to many living bacteria although most of it is harmless. Keeping a regular oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually prevent these microorganisms from getting out of control. However, when certain conditions are met, usually as a result of dental hygiene neglect, these bacteria in our mouths can transform minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic conditions.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Studies have established a link between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis is when an infection from one part of your body such as from an infected tooth, enters your bloodstream and spreads to the lining of your heart, compromising the heart muscles. Research also exists that indicates that risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes can all increased be by exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. Science has also found a link between poor oral health in expectant mothers and their children being born prematurely.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Conversely, doctors have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths. It is a known fact that gum disease is more prevalent among those with uncontrolled diabetes and its’ presence can be an indication that you should make an appointment with a doctor for diabetic testing. Lesions in the mouth can indicate some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may signal the onset of osteoporosis, a disease which causes bones to become weak and brittle. Declining oral health can also be a observed in many 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. Stevens recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and feeds bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Keeping your body properly hydrated is also crucial as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and neutralizes some of the enamel-destroying acids from the foods we eat. A healthy diet with a minimum of added sugar is also recommended. Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Stevens at Beautiful Smiles in the Greenwood/Indianapolis area to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Stevens today call (317) 886-4512 or schedule an appointment online.