The mouth along with teeth, tongue and gums is the gateway to our body from where we eat, drink and breathe. Doctors know it well that many diseases of the body express themselves as clinical signs/symptoms in the mouth. Recent evidence from scores of research reports establishes linkages of oral diseases affecting our general health.
General health problems that may be caused or aggravated by poor dental health include:
• Heart diseases
• Giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby
• Lung diseases
• Smoking – a risk for dental and general health
Dental-Cardiac Health Relation
With persistent uncontrolled gum disease and dental abscesses, we are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without such a disease. Bacteria from the these mouth infections can get into our blood, resulting in clotting and these clots then stick to the inner walls of tiny heart vessels. These blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, and so the heart being a vital organ may not receive all needed nutrients and oxygen. If left unchecked it could progress and lead to a heart attack. This rationale signifies itself as we witness appointment of dentists in many cardiac hospitals these days.
Dental Infections and Strokes
Several studies have concluded he connection between mouth infections and strokes. Good oral and dental health
may prevent this catastrophic outcome.
Diabetes and the Dental Health
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk. If you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk of losing teeth.
New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.
• A mother’s gum disease can affect the unborn baby.
• Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight.
• Women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.
• Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
• Dental infections and lung disease are also interlinked. Breathing in fine droplets of infection from gums/teeth can cause bacterial chest infections from the throat and mouth into the lungs. This can cause infections, such as pneumonia, or could make an existing condition worse especially in children, elderly and people with immune disorders. People with gum disease and interdental food packing have more bacteria in their mouth and may, therefore, be more likely to get chest infections.
Be Watchful for these Signs
• Inflammation of the gums which causes them to become red, swollen and bleed easily, especially when brushing.
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth
• Loose teeth
• Bad breath
• Tooth cavities
• Tooth swelling
Is Gum Disease Genetic?
Although there is some evidence that gum disease runs in families, the main cause is the plaque that forms on the surface of your teeth. To prevent gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day by brushing, and by cleaning in between your teeth. Bedtime flossing and effective brushing is especially important in this regard.
Smoking and Dental Health
Smoking can make gum disease much worse. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking means you have less oxygen in your bloodstream, so the infected gums do not heal. Smoking can also lead to tooth staining, tooth loss because of gum disease, bad breath, and, rarely, mouth cancer.
Recommended Guidelines to Keep Your Mouth Healthy
As a healthcare professional, I extend important tips to maintain/improve our oral health.
• Giving your dentist a thorough history; your current and past illnesses and the medication you are taking.
• Brushing twice a day with the right technique for three minutes.
• Effective brushing right before bedtime is far more beneficial than morning or day time brushing.
• Role of effective brushing technique and three minutes brushing time are far more significant than the brand of toothpaste that we use.
• If you notice food lodgment in between your teeth you may use regular dental flossing before brushing.
• If you find dental floss hard to manage, you may consider an easy alternative of using water pik twice a day after brushing.
• Diets unhealthy for teeth should be controlled. Such diets include starchy foods, fizzy drinks and sticky sweets.
• Diets that promote oral health should be encouraged. Such diets include fibrous foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and milk.
• Dental checkups should be carried out at least once a year. Seeking dental treatment at an early stage is cost effective in terms of discomfort, tissue damage, length of treatment, time and the cost. It is not the dental treatment rather the delay in treatment which costs more.
• High fluoride toothpastes have caries control effect, especially in young children with high risk of caries.
• Quit smoking as it causes staining of teeth, drying of mouth, periodontal problems as well as oral cancer.
In addition to enjoying your oral health with strong teeth and chewing comfort, good oral health will pave way towards maintaining general health. The famous quote, “prevention is better than cure” justifies well here. So we can conclude that; mouth is the mirror of your body. If you keep it clean then it will lead to a clean body.
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