Did you know that your oral health can offer clues about your overall health, or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Understanding the big connection between oral health and overall health allows you to take steps to protect yourself and keep healthy. At brunswick Dental Practice we offer blood pressure screening and diabetes risk assessment as both of these conditions may be linked with poor oral health.
Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria - most of them harmless. Normally the body's natural defences and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to mouth infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
In addition, certain medications - such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and blood pressure medications - can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.
Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.
Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Severe gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
Osteoporosis - which causes bones to become weak and brittle - might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
Tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome, an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth and eating disorders.
You may be surprised to find that your surgeon automatically refers you to see the dentist prior to any joint replacement surgery. This is due to the risks posed by high bacterial levels in the mouth to the surgical site and beyond. Please allow time to have dental treatment completed prior to your date for surgery.
Because of these potential links, be sure to tell your dentist if you're taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health - especially if you've had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.
Our approach to dentistry covers more than just oral health. When we do our initial assessments we look at your general health which links closely with your oral health. Emma Prentice