If a tooth goes bad, you expect to maybe get a toothache. If a gum is swollen, maybe you swish your mouth with salt water and hope it gets better. What you may not realize is that dental issues like swollen gums or toothaches could be the start of a much more serious illness – including some illnesses that could cost you your life. Let’s look at the connection between dental health and your overall health.
The relationship between your dental condition and overall health runs in two directions. Dental issues may open the door to more serious health problems – and conversely, serious health problems can affect the health of your mouth, resulting in dental problems. That’s why it’s important for your dentist to be involved in your healthcare. Your
will know when to refer you to a medical doctor or specialist to rule out any serious health conditions or bring them under treatment. Without that referral, you might be developing a life-threatening health problem you know nothing about.
Health Problems Your Dentist May be Able to Detect
Through regular dental exams, your
can detect these signs and refer you for care:
- Acid reflux disease which can result in stomach acids attacking your teeth – most often your bottom teeth. Your dentist can find erosion in these teeth early and inform you so you can take action to treat acid reflux.
- Periodontal disease (an inflammatory disease of gums and structures supporting the teeth) can change the body’s metabolism which can contribute to pre-diabetes and, eventually, diabetes.
- Raised bumps or recurring canker sores on your gums that could indicate Crohn’s disease.
- Poor oral or dental care or chronic inflammation in the mouth which can contribute to mouth cancers.
- Bacteria from infections in the mouth which can slow the growth of a fetus, resulting in low birth weight and lower survival rates.
Other Health Problems Related to Dental Issues
Here’s some of the other relationships between dental health and overall health that research has revealed:
- Missing teeth or missing bone around a tooth has been associated with a greater risk of having a stroke.
- Diseases like diabetes or chronic stress conditions can make oral tissues more susceptible to infection.
- Regular dental care by those already suffering from diabetes was found to be associated with a lower number of diabetes-related hospital visits.
- Periodontal disease showing up in a person who takes good care of their teeth could be a sign of heart disease and a higher risk of heart attack.
- Swelling and pain in the jaw can be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis because early involvement of the temporomandibular joint (where the jawbone fits into the skull near the ear) is common.
- Hundreds of medications that a person might be taking for a health condition cause dry mouth as a side effect and this affects the health of one’s mouth and teeth. To find out if a drug you are taking could be affecting the saliva your body produces, visit this page:
- Your dentist can also spot slight discoloration of tissues around your tongue or in the back of your throat that can be signs of oral cancer.
We hope you get the picture that your dentist is an important person to have on
for your overall health! Please make sure you maintain a regular schedule of hygiene and exam visits and follow your dentist’s recommendations. We invite you to visit us for any of your oral hygiene needs. Please give the office a call at