Why Your Dentist Is More Important To Your General Health Than You Might Realize
Oral health is about more than bright smiles and preventing cavities. It’s intricately connected to your whole health and wellness. Serious health problems are associated with poor oral health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
Seeing your dentist is more important than you ever realized. You need to learn more about the connection between oral health and overall health and what you can do to better care for both.
The Connection Between Oral Health And Overall Health
It all comes down to bacteria and how they live in a “biofilm”. Our mouths are full of bacteria! Some bacteria are harmless, while some cause diseases.
If you keep up with your oral health with healthy eating, drinking water frequently, regular brushing, flossing, and other good habits, the bacteria in your mouth generally tend to favor a healthful environment. However, if you have habits such as frequent snacking, eating inherently acidic foods, or have fermentable carbohydrates, “bad” bacteria can cause serious problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
The full extent of the mouth-body connection is still being studied, but it’s safe to say that the problems begin with these “bad” bacteria and how they affect the body.
Immune System Issues
When you have gum disease, your body’s immune system swings into action to fight the infection. However, the enzymes that the immune system releases can further damage gum tissue and the bone supporting your teeth. Your immune system also produces many other chemicals in the body, including some that may contribute to other health issues such as heart disease.
Bacteria On The Move
The bacteria in your mouth don’t stay only in your mouth. Bacteria can travel all over your body by entering the bloodstream through the gums. Once in your bloodstream, oral bacteria travel and infect other tissues including the heart, liver, and gut. It’s also been connected to respiratory infections and even dementia.
What Can Oral Health Do For Your Overall Health?
Help Manage Diabetes
Diabetes and gum disease are intricately linked. High blood sugar is a risk factor for gum disease, while gum disease can make it even harder for insulin in the body to do its job. Physicians consider gum disease to be a major complication of diabetes. It can be a vicious cycle trying to manage the two.
Science is now showing that certain types of bacteria that live under the gums can actually cause diabetes. These bacteria are measurable by a simple, modern DNA test or a microscopic evaluation. Make sure to find a dentist who is aware of and using DNA sampling tests or a phase-contrast microscope in the office as those will be the types of dentists who are more interested in treating the causes of your health issues rather than just the symptoms.
The good news is that the bacteria under your gums can not only be measured but treated in a minimally invasive fashion using laser and ozone gum therapy. If you strive for and are successful in having healthy teeth and gums, your body will have less resistance in the way it uses insulin. If you have diabetes, make sure you’re seeing your dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene habits.
Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease
There is also a solid connection between gum disease and heart disease. The risk factors for gum disease and heart disease include smoking, obesity, and an unhealthy diet. However, researchers now understand that there is a more direct link.
Inflammation in the mouth increases inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase the risk for heart attack by raising blood pressure or increasing the likelihood of fatty plaque breaking off and traveling to the heart or brain.
Nearly 91% of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis (gum disease).
Contribute to a Healthy Pregnancy
For pregnant women, gum disease can cause big problems. It has been linked to premature birth and low birthweight babies. Although the link between gum disease and other health conditions is more substantial, it’s important to be aware of the risk.
Unfortunately, your risk of gum disease increases during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, make sure you’re seeing your dentist regularly and practicing good oral health habits. Being proactive about your dental health is just another important step in contributing to safe, healthy pregnancy.
Top Tips For Oral Health With Overall Health Impact
Keep your teeth—and your body—in good health by following these important tips:
- Brush and Floss Properly: The foundation for good oral health is developing the habit of brushing and flossing regularly. Make sure you’re using proper technique!
- See Your Dentist Regularly: If you work in tandem with an awesome dentist and dental hygienist, you are much more likely to remain healthier throughout life. Commit to your whole-body health by starting and maintaining a relationship with a thoughtful group of oral health professionals!
- Quit Smoking: Have you heard? Smoking can kill you! Quitting isn’t easy—that’s for sure—but it’s definitely worth it!
- Eat a Healthy Diet: What you eat affects your teeth, mouth, and your whole body. Make sure you’re eating a healthy, clean diet, minimizing snacking, and trying to avoid sugars as much as possible.
- Don’t Put It Off: If you haven’t been following this advice and you’ve noticed some problems developing in your mouth, see a dentist as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate!
How Integrative Holistic Dental Care Can Help
Integrative holistic dentists take a unique approach to dentistry. They are initially trained and educated just like other dentists, but they generally continue their education throughout their careers. Unlike most traditional dentists, they recognize the connection between oral health and your overall health and wellness.
Integrative holistic dentists take that understanding and put it into practice. Instead of just treating symptoms, the integrative holistic approach identifies how the symptoms are connected to underlying whole-body health issues that can be addressed. The concept of “drill and fill” in holistic dentistry is non-existent!
The goal of holistic dental care is to treat the person as an integrated whole. If you don’t have experience with a holistic dentist, you may be surprised at the comprehensive care available. It’s not the dentist office experience you grew up with!
Ready To Take Control Of Your Health?
If you’re due (or past due) for an oral health assessment, or if you have questions about your oral health or integrative holistic dentistry, Holistic Dental Center New Jersey can help. Give us a call at (973) 718-5104 or contact us online for more information.
Want to learn more about the connection between oral health and the rest of your body? Check out this list of articles to get started: