Regular dental visits can tell a dentist a lot about your overall health. Recent research indicates that your oral health is a reflection of your global health. Meaning, if your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is also healthy. Those with poor oral health, this may be sending signals of other health issues.
Additionally, a healthy smile may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring, such as gum precipitated heart infections. As of late, a lot of orthopedic surgeons are requesting a blessing from your dentist before they operate. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there is a relationship between gum disease and health complications such as a stroke and heart disease. Women, in particular with gum disease show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.
Recent studies have shown that there are microbiologic and immunological findings that support the association. These studies indicate that periodontal infection can lead to placental-fetal exposure and, when coupled with a fetal inflammatory response, can lead to preterm delivery.
Further research shows that more than 80 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and/or excessive gum problems. Such systemic diseases include:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
Since most people have regular oral examinations their dentist may be the first line of defense to diagnose a health problem in its early stages.
Failing to take care of your teeth and can actually lead to other health problems, including:
- Oral and facial pain. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infections of the gums that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, and advanced gum disease affect more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.
- Problems with the heart and other major organs. Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.
- Oral cancer. Poor oral care can contribute to oral cancer, which now takes more lives annually than cervical or skin cancer.
- Digestion problems. Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestion disorders.
Seeing a dentist regularly keeps your mouth healthy and allows your dentist opportunities to examine developments that may point to other health issues. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact our office in Sandy Springs for a consultation.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DME
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
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 JADA, 2006, Exploring the relationship between periodontal disease and pregnancy complications
Yiorgos A. Bobetsis, DDS, PhD, Silvana P. Barros, DDS, PhD and Steven Offenbacher, DDS, PhD, MMSc