It may surprise you to find out that the state of your mouth can have an impact on your overall health. By looking at the condition of your teeth and gums, it is possible to evaluate your risk factors for a range of other diseases. This is because your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body, which means it is exposed to the largest amounts of bacteria.
Your mouth can be the first place that symptoms of whole body illnesses are seen. For instance, if you are suffering from a blood disorder, one of the first symptoms are pale and bleeding gums. For people who are suffering from skeletal osteoporosis, one of the first places that bone loss has occurred is in the lower jaw. Dentists can correctly identify patients who have diabetes, by just looking at their teeth, with 73% accuracy.
As well as being the location for early warning signs, your mouth can also be a point of entry for bacteria. The bacteria can travel to other parts of your body causing illness. Your immune response can cause damage to your teeth and gums and can put pressure on other systems in your body.
The Links Between Heart Disease and Oral Health
The exact nature of the link between heart disease and oral health is unclear, but there is, without doubt, a correlation. Ninety-one percent of patients who are diagnosed with heart disease also have periodontitis. This high instance of periodontitis in patients with heart disease could just be assigned to the fact that many of the behaviors that damage your heart can also damage your teeth, things like smoking and poor diet.
As well as shared risk factors, it is possible the bacteria in your mouth could lead to damage to your heart and circulatory system. Endocarditis is a form of heart disease that is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. It has been suggested that bacterium that has entered your body through your gums can be carried by your bloodstream to the heart where it can take hold.
Researchers are currently investigating the suggestion that inflammation of your gums could be damaging your blood vessels. When bacteria get into your gums, and your immune response rushes into the rescue, this causes inflammation at the site of the infection, but it can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels that are carrying the white blood cells. This stress on your blood vessels increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
Gum disease is considered one of the major complications associated with diabetes. When the body is unable to control the level of sugar in the blood, it increases your risk of developing gum disease and oral infections.
It also transpires that the inflammation associated with gum disease can inhibit the action of insulin. This means that diabetic patients who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their condition.
So, if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, by keeping your mouth in tip-top condition, you will be giving yourself a helping hand in managing your health.
Pregnancy and Periodontitis
When you are pregnant, you have many worries about how your lifestyle might be affecting your baby. When it comes to looking after your oral health during pregnancy, you are looking out for both yourself and your baby.
Let’s start with the benefits for you. Pregnancy is not kind to your body. Your body is used as a resource for growing your baby, and one of the places that are raided for minerals are your teeth. Once you get pregnant, your chance of developing cavities drastically increases, so it is a good idea to take extra care of your teeth.
During pregnancy, your hormones can be held responsible for yet another thing. The changes in your hormones put you at a higher risk for gum disease. This is now where the impact on your baby comes in. There is a link between gum disease in pregnancy, premature births, and babies born with low birth weights.
The reasons for this are unclear but could be attributed to the need to divert resources to fight off infections that would otherwise be going to the baby. The link is not as significant as it is for other diseases but when taking a little extra time to care for your teeth could improve the wellbeing of not only you but also your unborn child. Surely it is worth making that appointment to get a checkup with your dentist.
Looking after your teeth and gums will allow you to safeguard the health of not only your mouth but also your whole body. So, make sure that the next time your dentist gives you a checkup they don’t have reason to worry about anything more than your teeth.