Whole Health Dentistry
Have you ever wondered why your dentist asks about your medical history?
Why they need to know if high cholesterol or heart disease runs in your family and when your last physical was?
The answer is the oral/systemic link.
Your mouth and the bacteria inside of it are directly related to your whole body. The bacteria that live inside your mouth can enter the bloodstream and make you more prone to infection, increase your risk of high cholesterol and weaken your ability to control blood sugar, just to name a few. Certain medical conditions can directly lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease and even loss of teeth. The converse of this link is also true. Having gum disease can lead to problems or exacerbate existing conditions in the body.
One thing is clear: Your body and mouth are very much connected and the health (or illness) of one is directly connected to the other. Below are some examples of this inter-connectivity and how it relates to whole health dentistry.
The relationship between diabetes and periodontitis (gum disease) may be the strongest oral/ systemic correlation to date. Inflammation that starts in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin. The reverse effect is also true in that, having high blood sugar allows the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in all parts of the body, particularly in the mouth. Whether your diabetes is well controlled or not, regular dental care is a crucial piece in maintaining continued overall health.
Gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand. The two conditions have several risk factors in common, such as smoking, unhealthy diet, and excess weight. Periodontitis has a direct role in raising the risk for heart disease. Inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels increasing the risk of heart attack. The more plaque a patient has in their mouth the more opportunity the bacteria have to reach the bloodstream which can cause high cholesterol, and increase the propensity for blood and heart related illnesses.
There is a direct connection to gum disease and low birth weight babies. Infection and inflammation interfere with the fetus’ development in utero. Hormones change during pregnancy and many women experience an increase in bleeding gums. Having frequent dental check-ups throughout pregnancy and maintaining proper oral hygiene care is crucial for expectant mothers.
Just want to tell you how much I appreciate your work and to thank you for my new smile! My front teeth appear so natural and pretty now that I can’t stop showing them off! Thank you so much.Linda E.
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