Although a great looking smile and fresh breath are typically reason enough to practice good oral hygiene, having great oral health may affect more than just your mouth. In recent years, researchers have found evidence linking your oral health with your body’s overall health. This means prolonged poor dental hygiene could potentially end up affecting more than just your social life! This is why at Mapleridge Children & Adult Dentistry we strive to impart the importance of great oral health to all our patients, young and old alike. Healthy teeth and gums are our goals for every patient, but we believe helping patients understand the link to overall bodily health is important, too.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the mouth is the window to the body ― both in the figurative and literal sense. The mouth tends to be a good indicator of what is going on inside your body with its overall health. A wide range of health problems can cause symptoms that affect the mouth in some way, as with HIV/AIDS and diabetes. In fact, doctors are able to use saliva testing to test for a myriad of substances present in saliva, which can tell us a great deal about what’s going on inside us, from osteoporosis to even some forms of cancer.
Saliva also acts as your mouth’s main defense against harmful bacteria and viruses, using naturally-occurring antibodies and enzymes to help ward off these disease-causing pathogens. However, saliva isn’t able to fight off 100% of the bacteria that live within your mouth, which is when good oral hygiene becomes increasingly important.
The bacteria that do manage to exist in your mouth is constantly forming plaque ― a clear, sticky film that coats your teeth and gives them that “fuzzy” feeling. If allowed to persist, plaque will eventually lead to gum disease. Gum disease in its early stage, called gingivitis, can lead to inflamed, fragile gums that are prone to bleeding. Left untreated, gingivitis will increase in severity to periodontitis, or even to the most severe form of gum disease called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis ― commonly referred to trench mouth ― which can lead to tooth and even bone loss.
While bacteria from the mouth doesn’t typically enter the bloodstream, gum disease causes gums to weaken and bleed more easily, giving bacteria an opening to enter the bloodstream. Normally, mouth borne bacteria in the bloodstream doesn’t cause a great deal of harm, however, people with compromised immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS and chemotherapy patients, could end up with infections in other areas of the body should bacteria from the mouth enter their bloodstream.
If the idea of gum disease and tooth loss isn’t encouragement enough, research has also found a link between oral health and other more common medical conditions. Though further research is needed to understand if gum disease itself is the direct cause for these medical conditions, there has been a correlation established between oral infections and medical issues like diabetes, heart disease, and even early labor and low birth weights in children. This means that good oral health is not only important for the here and now, but it’s also an investment in your future, and possibly even that of your future children’s, too.
Because oral health is so closely linked with your body’s overall health, maintaining a healthy mouth is important for both children and adults. Regular brushing and flossing are key to a healthy mouth, but we sometimes aren’t as thorough as we think we are. That’s why it’s recommended patients see their adult or child’s dentist every six months for dental checkups. Your dentist will be able to help monitor your oral health and determine if you’re in good shape, or if your hygiene routine needs some adjusting. Mapleridge Children and Adult Dentistry is always happy to serve anyone on the search for an adult or child’s dentist they can trust.
Don’t be passive about your oral health ― be proactive! Practice good oral hygiene and make regular visits to your dentist for oral checkups. If you’re in need of a reliable adult or kid’s dentist in the Liverpool, NY area, look no further than Mapleridge Children & Adult Dentistry. Our experienced staff is well versed in treating both adults and children, making us the ideal family dentistry. We offer a variety of treatments and services, from preventative dental care to cosmetic dentistry. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your visit. We look forward to meeting you!