Relationship Between Oral Health and Systemic Disease
Believe it or not, the health of your teeth and gums has a direct impact on the health of your body as a whole. Continue reading to learn about the relationship between oral health and systemic disease.
So, what’s the connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body? A large part of the issue lies with bacteria that is caused by the development of gum disease.
Plaque and tartar are bacteria-filled substances that form on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film-like substance that can easily be removed with thorough brushing, but if it is not removed, it will develop into tartar. Tartar is a rock-hard substance that can only be removed with the use of professional tools.
Over time, the bacteria that reside inside these substances will begin to eat away at the tooth and bone structure within the mouth. If proper intervention is not taken, pockets will begin to form between the tooth and gum, and the patient will begin to experience gum and bone recession. This is known clinically as periodontitis. Other symptoms of gum disease include:
- Pain and swelling in the gums
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
Gum disease is a chronic infection of the gum tissues. Patients with gum disease eventually face the risk of the infection and bacteria entering the bloodstream and traveling throughout the body - especially to the heart.
This may place the patient at an increased risk for heart disease and heart attack. In fact, people with gum disease are three times more likely to develop heart disease than people who do not have gum disease.
Diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are either too high or too low. The connection between diabetes and oral health goes both ways; both conditions have been confirmed to have an effect on the other.
Patients with diabetes are often more prone to developing tooth decay, gum disease, infections, and dry mouth (often referred to as the ‘sixth complication’ of diabetes). Diabetic patients often suffer with chronic dry mouth, which greatly increases the chances of decay developing within the mouth.
Contrarily, gum disease has been proven to cause a considerable rise in blood sugar levels. If this is allowed to progress without professional intervention, the patient faces a serious risk of developing diabetes as a result of their gum disease.
Oral health has a connection to systemic diseases, but it is also worth mentioning that pregnancy can be affected by poor oral health, as well.
During pregnancy, the body experiences a large rush of progesterone and estrogen hormones. This increase in hormone levels places the patient at risk for developing inflammation in their gums. If this condition is allowed to progress, the patient faces the risk of gum disease.
Unfortunately, pregnant women with gum disease may experience issues with their pregnancy or birth: a study from the University of North Carolina concluded that women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
Keeping Your Mouth (And Body) Healthy
As you have learned here, taking steps to maintain your oral health goes far beyond maintaining a white smile. Keeping your mouth healthy ultimately means keeping your body healthy, as well.
The best ways to maintain your oral health is to:
- Brush twice daily for two minutes
- Floss twice daily (or after every meal)
- Attend all check-up and cleaning appointments
- Follow through with any restorative dental treatment that is recommended for you
- Maintain a ‘tooth-friendly’ diet
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, it is crucial that you undergo the relevant hygienic treatment to maintain the condition.
When a patient is diagnosed with gum disease, rather than having a regular cleaning done every six months, they will be recommended for a treatment known as scaling and root planing. This is commonly referred to as a ‘deep cleaning’.
During a deep cleaning, your hygienist or dentist will clean your teeth and rid them of harmful plaque and tartar. They will also clean beneath the gum line to ensure that bacteria is not permitted to grow and fester which can cause the gum disease to worsen and progress.
Because the cleaning will be done beneath the gum line, you will likely be thoroughly numbed to ensure that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. After the mouth has been thoroughly cleaned, antibiotics will be placed beneath the gum line to discourage bacterial growth between appointments.
Regular cleanings are typically done every six months. Deep cleanings are typically recommended to be done every three months; this allows your dental professionals to keep a close eye on your condition and to prevent it from worsening.
It is important to keep in mind that while professional treatment can prevent gum disease from progressing, it can not reverse it. Once you have been diagnosed, it is crucial that you continue to follow up with your scaling and root planning to ensure that the condition remains under control.
FY Smile: Your Local Dentist in Double Bay, Sydney.
With the tips and information you have learned here, you will be well-equipped for maintaining the health of both your mouth and your body as a whole.
If you’re in the Double Bay area and searching for the “best dentist near me”, search no longer. For the most comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry in Sydney, put your trust in FY Smile.
Your journey towards the beautiful smile of your dreams starts here. FY Smile is proud to operate as an official Digital Smile Design clinic; our team of experts will work with you to design a beautiful smile that naturally complements your features and provides you with priceless confidence.
For more information about dental treatment in Sydney or to make an appointment at our Double Bay dental office, give us a call anytime at 02 8319 5557.