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How Does Dentistry Affect Overall Health?

Many people understand that they should take care of their teeth to achieve a beautiful smile, but what many may not know is that your oral health has a direct effect on your overall health. 

 

How Are Oral and Overall Health Connected?

Properly caring for your teeth goes far beyond keeping them white and shiny - there is actually a direct connection between your oral and overall health, and a large part of the connection lies with bacteria. 

Bacteria naturally occurs within the mouth, and is regulated by brushing, flossing, and attending professional dental cleaning appointments. When bacteria is left unregulated and is not properly managed with hygienic care, the bacteria begins to accumulate both on the surface of the teeth, on the gums, and below the gum line. 

Over time, the bacteria begins to eat away at both the gum and bone structure. The individual then faces developing gingivitis and its more advanced stage of periodontitis - commonly known as gum disease. It is quite common to experience the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding/swelling gums
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste in mouth
  • Gum/bone recession
  • Loose teeth
  • Lost teeth

Gum disease is a chronic infection of the gum tissues, but it is important to keep in mind that gum disease does not only affect your teeth and gums. 

If clinical intervention is not taken, the patient may face the risk of the infection entering the bloodstream and eventually travelling to the heart. This may place the individual at risk for potentially life-threatening heart conditions.

Heart Health

As previously mentioned, the development of gum disease places your heart - and consequently your health - at an increased risk. 

Bacterial infection in the heart places the individual at risk for the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Clogged arteries

If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, it is important that you inform your general doctor. Alternatively, if you have a heart condition or have a predisposition to heart conditions, it is important to let your dentist know. 

Diabetes

As it turns out, there is a strong connection between diabetes and oral health.

Diabetes is a health condition in which the body’s blood sugar levels are not stable - either too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). 

Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Chronic sweating
  • Confusion
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache

Diabetes and gum disease have been noted to have direct effects on one another. Gum disease is a chronic infection of the gum tissues; it has commonly been observed to cause a rise in blood sugar levels. Over time - if the patient does not take the necessary steps to treat their gum disease - they may face the risk of developing diabetes.

Alternatively, diabetes has been shown to lead to gum disease, as well. Common symptoms of diabetes include dry mouth and increased risk of tooth decay and infection. In fact, declining oral health is often referred to as the “sixth complication” of diabetes.

How To Manage a Healthy Mouth

The best way to manage your oral health is to practice preventative dental care. This includes:

  • Brushing twice daily (being sure to brush for a minimum of two minutes each time)
  • Flossing twice daily (or after each meal whenever possible)
  • Attending your dental check-up and cleaning appointments as scheduled
  • Maintain a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy
  • Alert your dentist right away if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort

Patients who have been diagnosed with gingivitis or gum disease should ensure that they are following through with their treatment as recommended by their dentist or dental hygienist. 

Gum disease is treated with thorough deep cleanings above and below the gum line known as scaling and root planings; this is a crucial part of treating chronic infection of the gum tissues and maintaining a healthy mouth. These deep cleanings make it possible to remove bacteria below the gumline, which is impossible to do at home with regular brushing and flossing.

Another crucial part of maintaining your oral health is completing your recommended restorative dental treatment.

Follow through with your recommended dental treatment plan as soon as possible; do not wait to complete your recommended treatment, even if you are not experiencing pain or discomfort. 

If your dentist has informed you that you are in need of restorative dental treatment such as a filling, root canal, or dental crown and you are not experiencing pain, this actually may be a good sign. It is quite common for patients to begin experiencing discomfort or pain when the decay or damage has become extremely extensive, which can make it difficult to restore the tooth. 

It is always best to consult your dentist and schedule your recommended treatment as soon as possible for the best chance of successfully restoring and preserving your natural tooth. This is just another step you can take to maintain a high quality of both oral and overall health.

FY Smile: Local Dentist in Double Bay, Sydney.

Here at FY Smile, we are fully dedicated to helping you manage not only a healthy smile, but a healthy body, as well. Managing your oral health goes far beyond achieving a bright white smile; it helps ensure that you are maintaining the health of your body.

For more information about how dentistry affects overall health, or to make an appointment at our Double Bay dental office, give us a call anytime at 02 8319 5557.