Did you know that your oral health can offer clues to your overall health? Or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? What's the connection? Your mouth is teeming with bacteria, viruses, fungi--most of them harmless. Remember, the digestive process starts in your mouth. Normally good oral health care keeps them under control. However, if out of control, they can cause infections, tooth decay and gum disease. If the normal balance of these "bugs" is disrupted or your mouth's protective barriers are breached (cuts in soft tissue, holes in teeth, etc.), bacteria may enter your bloodstream.
Oral health may affect:
Your heart: if you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, bacteria in your bloodstream may cause an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).
Cardiovascular disease: some research suggests heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to the oral bacteria from chronic gum disease.
Pregnancy and birth: gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes: this disease reduces the body's resistance to infection --putting the gums at risk. Inadequate blood sugar control leads to gum infections and bone loss around teeth. Uncontrolled diabetics have greater tooth loss than people who have good sugar control.
HIV/AIDS: painful soft tissue lesions are common.
Osteoporosis: which causes bones to become weak and brittle, may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
Alzheimer's disease: tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor. Protect your oral health by practicing good oral hygiene every day, brushing twice, flossing, replacing your toothbrush every three to four months, eating a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
Regular dental checkups and awareness of signs or symptoms of oral disease is an investment in your overall health.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309