There is a saying that “eyes are the window to the soul”. However, to a dentist, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your bodily health. It can, in fact, be a “door” as well. Many oral health issues can lead to systemic issues. A health issue that is systemic is an issue that affects your entire “system” i.e. your body. Alternately, many health issues can cause problems in your oral health, in spite of your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. Protect yourself by learning more about this vital link between your mouth and your body. It might just save your life.
We cannot see it but we are host to a myriad of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Our mouths are a home for living bacteria, although most of it is harmless. Regular oral health care such as brushing your teeth at least at least twice daily and routine flossing can usually keep these microbes in check. However, when certain conditions occur, these bacteria in our mouths can transform oral health issues such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic conditions.
A link between endocarditis and poor oral health has been determined by doctors. Endocarditis occurs when an infection from one part of your body such as your mouth, slips into your bloodstream and spreads to the lining of your heart, weakening it. There is also research that indicates that clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes can all be worsened by the bacteria from oral health issues. Furthermore, a link has been found between poor oral health in mothers and their children being born preterm.
As far as your bodily health affecting your oral health, research shows that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths in some form. Gum disease is more prevalent among those with uncontrolled diabetes than among the average person and can be an indicator that an appointment with a doctor for further tests may be in order. Suffering from lesions in the mouth may be a sign of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth could be linked to osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to weaken and become brittle. Worsening oral health can also be a indication of the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
You might be asking: how can I protect my oral health? Dr. Van Gurp advises brushing your teeth at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and feeds the bacteria. Keeping properly hydrated is also crucial as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and also neutralizes some of the acids from foods we eat that can weaken tooth enamel, leading to infections. Eating healthier such as choosing foods without added sugar is also important.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Van Gurp to treat small issues before they become serious. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Van Gurp today call 704.209.9606 or schedule an appointment online.