You’re probably familiar with the old adage, “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to the Ridgetop Dental Group Northern VA team, the mouth is a window to your overall health. In fact, many oral health problems are linked to systemic, or overall, health problems.
The reverse is also true: many health issues can be detected in the mouth. If your oral health is suffering despite great oral hygiene, you may be fighting a health problem you didn’t know you had. That’s why dentists are always talking about the mouth-body link and how important your oral health is to your overall wellbeing.
Understanding the Mouth-Body Link
We are all home to a microscopic ecosystem of bacteria, and the mouth is home to hundreds of different species of oral bacteria. Most bacteria are harmless and many even have important roles in healthy digestion.
But some bacteria cause cavities by eroding tooth enamel, which is why removing them with brushing and flossing is so important. Maintaining a regular oral hygiene regimen will help keep these microorganisms at bay. However, if the bacteria are left on the teeth and form plaque or even tartar, you might have to deal with gum disease or even tooth loss. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is linked to diabetes and heart problems.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Many studies have demonstrated a link between heart problems such as endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis occurs when an infection in one part of the body — like an infected tooth, for example — spreads through the bloodstream to the heart lining. This weakens heart muscles and puts a person at risk of heart attack. Research has also indicated a link between excess oral bacteria and clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Conversely, researchers have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths through symptoms. For example, patients with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to have gum disease. Therefore, the presence of gum disease in a diabetic person might suggest that they should have a check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist).
Lesions in the mouth can be a sign of autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may warn of the onset of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease. People that are developing Alzheimer’s Disease are often observed to have a decline in oral health as well.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
Fortunately, you can protect your oral health by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make your oral health a priority. The mouth and body can tell us a lot about each other, and we can keep ourselves healthy by taking care of both. Schedule your cleaning with our office online or call today.