Do you ever wonder why when you visit the dentist or hygienist they ask questions about your general health? At Mossvale Dental we are particularly keen to know if you have diabetes or heart disease or other health issues so we can gain a better understanding of your health in relationship to your dental health. So what do your teeth have to do with your general health?
Teeth are like the TV remote, electricity or indoor plumbing – as in we take them for granted and only realise how important they are when something goes wrong.
In recent years, studies have shown that poor oral health can put your overall health at risk. Your mouth, like many other parts of the body, is home to many bacteria. With daily brushing and flossing these bacteria can be kept under control. Without proper oral care, bacteria builds up and reacts with sugar and starch in the diet to form acids and toxins that decay teeth and the bacteria infect your gums. Over time, severe gum disease may develop, resulting in inflammation that eats away at gums and the boney structures that hold teeth in place. This is known as periodontitis. Gum disease is the most common chronic inflammatory condition in the world.
Gum disease is characterised by red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss, bad breath, loose or drifting teeth and is usually painless.
Though not completely understood, there is a link between heart disease and gum disease. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have advanced gum disease. People with gum disease were two times as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke! The link is thought to be due to the inflammation. When there is significant inflammation in the mouth, inflammation of blood vessels in other parts of the body may develop. The theory is that inflamed blood vessels become blocked, restricting the flow of oxygen and key nutrients to vital organs, resulting in heart attacks and strokes.
Ongoing inflammation in your mouth can also allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This may lead to severe infections in other parts of your body, such as your heart and kidneys.
Poor oral care makes it harder to control blood sugars in diabetic patients and can actually predispose you to having diabetes. If your blood sugars are not controlled your gum disease is harder to manage and you get caught in a vicious cycle.
Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight osteoporosis, weak and brittle bones and common respiratory ailments such as pneumonia and emphysema.
People with diabetes, heart disease or a family history of these conditions should be visiting with the dentist/ hygienist every 3 months to help control their gum disease and reduce inflammation.
The key to a healthy mouth and thus healthy body is to understand that there is a link between what is happening in your mouth and the rest of your body and this is why as your dentist we ask you about your general health.
If it has been 6 months or more since your last dental clean or you are concerned about your dental health or experiencing bleeding gums call us for a professional oral health check and clean 02 4869 3111