Healthy Mouth – Healthy Body
ORAL HEALTH CARE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR OVERALL HEALTH CARE
Trained professionals see much more than teeth when they look in someone’s mouth. Signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection can be detected and sometimes systemic diseases, like AIDS and diabetes can be suspected because of mouth lesions.
Oral health is more related to overall health than most people realize. Not only is the mouth a window to your state of health, but because it is the entry point to our respiratory and digestive tracts, it can be a contributing factor to your overall health- good or bad.
There are a lot of good reasons to take care of your mouth and even more to pay attention to what you put in it.
Our mouth is full of bacteria, most of them harmless, especially if we maintain good oral health practices, such as brushing, flossing and rinsing. However, poor habits can allow the bacteria to grow to levels that lead to oral infections, which manifest as tooth decay and gum disease. An unhealthy mouth can signal and perhaps even contribute to other health difficulties. Let’s examine gum disease first, which can be the initial contributing factor to other difficulties:
The initial stage of gum disease is Gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of the tissue at the neck of the teeth and its symptoms are redness, swelling and bleeding, when one brushes their teeth. This condition, associated with bacteria in the mouth, can be reversed with the proper oral hygiene habits of brushing and flossing.
Peritonitis is inflammation of the gums, tissues and bones surrounding the teeth. Pockets or spaces between the teeth and gums are formed. It can progress to the point where the destruction is chronic, leading to loosening or loss of teeth.
Gingivitis can lead to peritonitis because of two factors: Oral health habits and genetic predisposition. The speed of progression of oral disease depends on the virulence of the bacterial plaque vs. the immunoinflammatory response. Things that effect our immune systems that we can control are diet and stress. We can also increase our chances of controlling gingivitis with good oral care.
There is evidence that poor oral health can contribute to Endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves or chambers. This condition happens when bacteria or germs from another part of the body (such as the mouth) get transported through the bloodstream and attach to areas of the heart. Some studies show that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke could be connected to infection and inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
There are some bacterial in your mouth, that if pulled into the lungs could cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
CONDITIONS THAT CAN AFFECT ORAL HEALTH
There are also some medical and physical conditions that can have an adverse effect on oral health, which also underscores the need for good periodontal care general health practices.
Diabetes can affect gum health, because it reduces the body’s resistance to infection. Reversely, research suggests that individuals with gum disease have a more difficult time controlling blood sugar levels. Good periodontal care can be added to the list of many things that contribute to control of diabetes
OTHER CONDITIONS THAT CAN AFFECT ORAL HEALTH
Saliva helps protect us from microbes by washing away food and neutralizing acids. Some medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants reduce saliva, therefore increasing the risk for infection.
HIV/AIDs Individuals with this condition frequently have painful mucosal lesions
Osteoporosis is a bone weakening disease, which, can also be linked with bone and tooth loss.
Regular cleanings and checkups with a dentist are important elements in maintaining dental health.
Here are some other good oral health practices that should be maintained between office visits:
- Brush teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and a toothpaste you can trust (ask Dr. Lohmann if you have any questions about toothpaste)
- Floss daily (use a waxed version if the floss gets stuck in your teeth.)
- Use a good mouthwash to get rid of any remaining food particles
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating, if you don’t have a brush
- Replace your toothbrush every three months, to avoid the growth of bacteria
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacoo