Everyone has heard that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to Dr. Donald Reid of Truckee CA, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, your mouth could be viewed as a “door” as well since many oral health problems can bring on systemic issues. A health problem is termed systemic when it threatens your entire “system”; in other words, not just your mouth but your body.
However, many systemic health issues can lead to problems with your oral health despite you making your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is important for you to understand this link between your oral health and the health of your entire body. Your may be saving your life when you’re brushing your teeth.
Our bodies are the host for an entire ecosystem of living organisms. Although we can’t see them, harmless bacteria live on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Practicing regular oral hygiene that includes brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and flossing daily should keep these microorganisms under control. But, when the right conditions are met for these bacteria, usually due to negligence of one’s dental hygiene, they can cause minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay to turn into dangerous systemic conditions such as clogged arteries.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Researchers have found a link between poor oral health and endocarditis, which is when an infection from another part of your body such as from infected gums, spreads to the lining of your heart through your bloodstream, weakening the heart muscles. Studies also show that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes increase with the heart’s exposure to these bacteria from oral health issues. Doctors have also observed a connection between poor oral health in pregnant women and their children being born prematurely.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Conversely, 90% of systemic medical conditions can be detected through symptoms that appear in our mouths. It has been established as fact that periodontitis- gum disease- is more prevalent among people with uncontrolled diabetes. Its’ presence in a mouth can be a warning sign that a person that is borderline diabetic should probably have a check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). The Appearance of lesions in the mouth can also signal some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost or loose teeth may indicate the onset 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
So how do you prevent any of these dental issues from wreaking havoc on your body? Dr. Reid recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and nourishes bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Drinking plenty of fluids to keep your body properly hydrated is also important as saliva removes excess food that can form plaque and neutralizes some of the acids from food that eat away at our tooth enamel. Sticking with a healthy diet that includes very little added sugar is also recommended.
Most importantly, if you’re in the Truckee CA area, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Reid to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Reid today call (530) 206-0392 or schedule an appointment online.