Dentists at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) consider the mouth as the doorway to your body systems and organs. Dental health has a unique relationship with overall health, both figuratively and literally. Many people think that fresh breath and pearly whites mean proper dental health, but this could be the difference between life and death.
Researchers at the American Academy of Periodontology state that the mouth is a hotbed of bacteria and, if not well controlled, could put your general health at risk. From tooth decay to gum inflammation, dental issues could indicate underlying health issues in your body.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral health has an impact on people’s psychological and physical health. It affects how you speak, grow, taste food, chew, look, and socialize. Practicing good dental hygiene and visiting an Encino dentist helps unearth any underlying health risks and treating them at their early stages. In this article, you learn how dental health issues indicate health problems in your body.
Saliva as A Diagnostic Tool
In 2003, the World Oral Health Report stated that the connection between oral health and general health is backed by scientific evidence. When you visit a hospital, the doctor could collect your saliva to test for various ailments. For instance, levels of cortisol in infants’ saliva help determine their stress responses. Particular cancers are detected through saliva too.
Ways in which overall health relates to dental health include:
- Poor oral health could cause disability
- Major ailments share similar risk factors with oral conditions
- Overall health issues could worsen general health conditions and vice versa
- Poor dental health links directly to systemic and major chronic diseases
Since saliva links to many health problems, scientists are looking to substitute blood testing with saliva testing for diseases like liver cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes.
Periodontal Disease Linkage to Chronic Diseases
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease affects approximately one in every two grownups. Also, this disease affects 2.5 times more patients than diabetes. Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease occurs when gingivitis gets to an advanced stage.
Gingivitis is a disease that causes swelling, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. If not well treated, periodontitis causes tissue damage, receding gums, and destroys the bones around your teeth. At more advanced stages, you could lose your teeth.
There are many studies conducted by the American Society of Nephrology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and American Heart Association proving that periodontitis links to several diseases, and these include:
Chronic Kidney Disease
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) could experience changes in the mouth, like inflammation and gingivitis. Also, oral problems could cause more severe kidney complications or even death due to the effects of artery hardening, protein-energy wasting, and inflammation. The impact of poor oral health in CKD patients could worsen due to factors like concurrent treatments and advanced age.
Cardiologists and dentists now link periodontal disease to several cardiovascular diseases like stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and carotid arterial disease. According to scientists at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, the primary link to periodontitis and cardiovascular complications is inflammation.
- Carotid Artery Disease
Researchers from the University of Florida state that periodontitis can increase cholesterol levels inside the heart arteries. In one study, 46% of the participants who had lost about ten teeth had carotid artery plaque. Among those who had ten or more teeth missing, 60% of them had this disease.
Studies have shown that bacteria responsible for the formation of periodontal lesions are attracted to platelets. The bacteria and platelets join to form small clots. These clots block the blood vessels close to the heart; hence, causing a significant health risk to persons prone to stroke. There is further evidence that the risk of stroke lowers in patients who receive treatment for periodontal disease.
Bacteria from periodontitis enter the bloodstream and get conveyed to the heart arteries. Here, the bacteria cause hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis leads to plaque development on the arteries walls and thickens the arteries. Artery thickening results in reduced blood flow in your body and a disease known as endocarditis.
Often than not, patients learn about their diabetic conditions through the diagnosis of gum disease. Dentists at the periodontology division at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine state that hundreds of patients who visit the facility get diagnosed with diabetes due to their oral conditions.
Gum inflammation makes it harder to regulate your blood sugar; hence, worsening symptoms of diabetes. Gum disease at an advanced stage disrupts control of blood sugar due to insulin resistance.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Healthcare experts have associated tooth loss with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Blood tests have shown that periodontal disease causes impaired delayed memory and calculation. The bloodstream and nerve channels connect your brain to the mouth. If you suffer from periodontitis, odds are the bacteria could enter the brain and kill its cells. Dead brain cells could make you forget things or cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Oral Manifestations of HIV Infection
During the early stages of HIV, oral manifestations occur. Over 50 percent of persons living with HIV experience oral infections like bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. This is because of a weakened immune system, and that’s a reason why such patients are advised to safeguard their dental health and visit an Encino dentist for expert treatment.
The Journal of Periodontology states that bacteria from inflamed gum could cause lung infections. Infections occur when you observe poor oral health, and the bacteria finds its way to your trachea. If the bacteria reach the lungs, cancerous cells could form or even cause acute respiratory pneumonia.
A study from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research shows that approximately 18% of mothers who give birth to preterm and underweight infants in the US have oral infections such as gingivitis and gum disease. The researchers say that bacteria in the mouth releases toxins, which travel to the placenta via the expectant mother’s bloodstream and affect the fetus’s development. Also, oral infections trigger labor pains early than the expected date of delivery; hence, the possibility of preterm birth or low birth weight babies.
Your Dental Health Reveals About Your Overall Health
Your mouth is your body’s window. It reveals what’s happening in your body, often acting as a vantage point for discovering the signs of systemic disease like diabetes, heart disease, and AIDS. As the Academy of General Dentistry suggests, over 90% of chronic or systemic ailments show through oral symptoms. If you notice anything peculiar vis-à-vis in your mouth like pain or inflammation, you need to visit an Encino dentist for treatment and regular checkup. Doing this protects not only your dental health but also overall health.