We’ve been tweeting a lot lately about the importance of, and the link between, good oral/dental health and overall health. Today, we thought perhaps it was a good idea to explore this idea a little further. Is there a link between your mouth and your health? There sure is and sometimes, the surefire way to know that a health issue is developing is to take a look at our teeth, mouth and gums.
We have touched on the subject before, looking at your tongue as a guide to health and what your gums might tell a Dentist but today we explore several other links between teeth and your health. It’s important to note that the links between causation and effect are not always simply a direct line between dentition and disease but that one may tell us something about the other or act as a predictor.
A quick peek in the mouth can often tell us straight away if a patient is dealing with something like Crohn’s disease or Celiac because of the overall general condition of the teeth, acid erosion and / or from ulcers that have developed. Mouth lesions are sometimes the first sign of an HIV infection and pale or bleeding gums can lead to a diagnosis of a blood disorder. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia also leave a mark on teeth which is relatively easy to see and could result in an important first step towards referral, diagnosis and treatment.
A number of other diseases and disorders can (but not always we must add) be related to oral health. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even, as some recent studies suggest, dementia, might all show signs in our teeth first or during treatment. As we said at the outset, this might not necessarily have to do with how we take care of our teeth and other factors, like socio-economic conditions, what we eat, availability of fluoride in the water supply, hygiene and habits like smoking or alcohol consumption will all play a role as well.
Exploring just one link today – between heart disease and oral health – we find that the link often has much to do with bacteria. Gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease can lead to an excessive amount of bacteria in the mouth and that bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and to the heart. There, they can attach to damaged areas of the heart, causing inflammation. Clogged arteries, endocarditis, even stroke could be a long-term result. If your gums are red, swollen, sometimes bleed or are sore to the touch that alone is reason enough to visit the Dentist but with other risk factors associated with these symptoms, it’s in your best interests to visit your Dentist promptly and perhaps schedule a follow up with your Family physician.
We would like to end by saying that we don’t want to scare you! Really we don’t. There are plenty of reasons you might have a sore or tender gum line or a toothache that just won’t go away that have nothing to do with your heart health! However, knowledge is power and we have always sought to inform and educate in our blogs and a healthy mouth certainly acts as an excellent gateway to a healthy overall mind and body. The Brinkley Dental Team treats you like family and we care about the “whole” you. Schedule an appointment with us today and as always “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”