It’s common wisdom that “eyes are the window to the soul”. However, to your Howard County Smiles dentist, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your overall health. In fact, it can be the “door” as well. Research shows that many oral health issues lead to systemic issues. A systemic issue one that affects your entire “system”, in this case, your body. In addition, many health issues can be detected by a decline in your oral health even if you’re doing your best to care for your teeth and gums. Protect yourself by learning more about this connection between your mouth and your body. It could just save your life.
We are an ecosystem for a myriad of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth, although they are invisible to us. Our mouths are home to countless living bacteria. Most of this bacteria is harmless. Brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually keep these microorganisms from taking over. However, sometimes these bacteria in our mouths can turn minor oral health conditions such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic issues.
Doctors have linked endocarditis to poor oral health. Endocarditis occurs when an infection from one part of your body such as your mouth, infiltrates your bloodstream and spreads to the lining of your heart, weakening it. Research also exists that suggests that clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes can worsen from exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. Additionally, a connection has been found between poor oral health in mothers and their children being born preterm.
Conversely, studies show that 90% of systemic medical conditions can be detected in our mouths in some way. Gum disease is more widespread among those with uncontrolled diabetes and can be an indicator that an appointment with a doctor for further tests for diabetes may be in order. Lesions in the mouth can be sign of the patient suffering from an autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may be linked to the disease osteoporosis which weakens bones and makes them brittle. A decline in oral health can also be indicative of the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
How can we protect our oral health? To remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and feeds the bacteria, Howard County Smiles recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily. Proper hydration is also important 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 and lead to infections. Eating healthy foods that contain very little or no added sugar is also important.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with your Howard County Smiles dentist to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation at Howard County Smiles today call 410.415.9013 or schedule an appointment online.