We’ve all heard the adage “Your body is a temple.” We know that we need to take care of it and we know that what we eat, how much we exercise, how often we see a doctor, and a whole host of other factors can have major effects on the rest of our body. But did you know that brushing your teeth and going to the dentist regularly can affect more than just the number of cavities you get? Research is coming out all over the place that shows that having a healthy smile will increase your likelihood of having a healthy body as well! Here are just 8 ways that the health of your mouth will affect your overall health.
Periodontitis – When bacteria builds up on your teeth it can make your gums more prone to infections. When your immune system senses the infection it will move in to attack. This attack will cause your gums to become inflamed. Long-term inflammation and the chemicals it releases can eat away at your gums and the bones that hold your teeth in place. This is called periodontitis.
Diabetes –If you have diabetes, your body is already struggling to process sugar due to a lack of insulin. Periodontal disease complicates the issue by further impairing your body’s ability to use insulin. To make things even worse, high blood sugar contributes to ideal conditions for infections to grow. This starts a really vicious cycle that can rapidly get out of control.
Heart Disease – There is still some debate on the exact correlation, but research indicates that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. Among people without heart disease, only 66% have periodontitis. This would suggest that there is a stronger connection beyond similar risk factors like smoking, excess weight, and unhealthy diets. Some experts theorize that inflammation in the mouth also causes inflammation of the blood vessels. This increases the risk for heart attacks by allowing less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body, increases blood pressure, and raises the risk of fatty plaque breaking off of a blood vessels wall and traveling to the heart.
Pregnancy Complications – Some research shows that gum disease is a contributing factor to premature labor. Studies have shown that infections and inflammation, in general, interfere with fetal development. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy can also increase the risk of periodontal disease. It’s always a good idea to have a comprehensive periodontal exam if you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant so that you can catch any trouble before it becomes a real problem.
Osteoporosis – Periodontitis, and osteoporosis have one big thing in common – bone loss. Beyond that though experts are divided. Some experts point out that osteoporosis affects the long bones in arms and legs and is more common in women than in men. Periodontitis affects the jaw bone and is more common among men. Despite these differences, some studies have found that women with osteoporosis are more likely to have gum disease than women without it. Researchers are also testing a theory that inflammation caused by periodontitis could weaken the bones in other parts of the body as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Studies have shown that treating the periodontal disease can reduce the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis! Patients with RA have also been shown to be at higher risk for periodontal disease. A number of similarities have been found in the joint and oral tissues as well as the way they become inflamed.
Obesity – Periodontitis has been shown to progress more rapidly in the presence of higher body fat.
The impact of oral health on the rest of the body is still a fairly new area of study. New mouth-body connections are still being discovered and investigated. But from just this short list we feel it’s safe to say that having a healthy smile will definitely increase your overall health. Come in to see Dr. Mandanas and let us make sure you’re as healthy as possible!