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The Mouth-Body Connection


Older Chandler, AZ man smiling from a successful periodontist visit.Patient education is something we hold in high regard at Scholes Periodontics & Implants. We realize that the more you know about your dental health, the more likely you are to take great care of your teeth.

When taking your oral health into consideration, it is important to also consider the direct, and often intense influence it has on your overall general health. The health of the teeth and gums are known as the window to your overall health.

Oral Health—the Window to Overall Health

Diagram of human body in relation to periodontal health from office of periodontist in Chandler, AZ.It is a safe bet that if your teeth or gums are in bad shape, there is at least another part of the body that is feeling those affects in a negative way. The mouth is full of bacteria and is constantly being exposed in a very familiar way to new and potentially dangerous things. Once something is chewed it has already undergone the first step in the digestive process and is ready to enter the rest of your digestive tract.

With proper oral health habits and maintenance, your mouth will usually have no problem keeping the numbers of harmful bacteria to acceptable levels. The body's natural defense system is adept at keeping these bacteria under control. The issue arises with the unnatural amount of sugars that we now consume every day. With all those extra sugars, your teeth need extra help in the fight against bad oral bacteria. Brushing twice a day (after breakfast and dinner) and flossing at least once a day does a great job of washing away the harmful bacteria from your teeth and gums.

Your Gums

When you allow these bacteria to build up over a long period of time, they can start to work against your oral and overall health. Imagine your gums—they are composed of a very soft, constantly wet, tissue that has a massive structure of tiny blood vessels very close to the surface. They are a very thin membrane that separates your blood flow from all the potential dangers of these harmful bacteria that can build up in the mouth.

Your gums, like the membranes that cover your nasal cavities, are an extremely thin passageway into the bloodstream. Substances can be transmitted into the bloodstream with ease from the gums. This is why disease can easily be spread to the rest of your body from the gums. Your blood circulates through your gums, picks up whatever is present, and goes on to circulate through the rest of your body.

Health Conditions That Can Arise or Be Made Worse Due to Poor Dental Health

There are quite a few conditions that are known to stem from, or be affected by, poor oral and gingival health including the following:
•  Endocarditis
•  Pregnancy and birth
•  Diabetes
•  Osteoporosis
•  Alzheimers disease
•  HIV/AIDS
•  Cardiovascular disease

Endocarditis

If you have suffered damage to your heart in the past, that usually means that some of your heart tissue is either damaged or is scar tissue. These damaged tissues are susceptible to infection from impurities in the blood, exactly the kind of impurities that poor oral health can introduce.

Pregnancy and Birth

There are many studies linking premature birth and low birth weight to advanced gum disease. It is critical to maintain a healthy mouth during pregnancy.

Diabetes

When a person has diabetes their body is at a higher risk of infection because diabetes acts on the immune system. If you have diabetes, taking care of your teeth is critical to your overall health as infections are easily picked up and spread with a low immune system.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease where the quality and quantity of your bone mass greatly deteriorates. When you are affected by periodontal disease, where the bone is often at risk of recession and add a disease that directly, negatively impacts bone levels, it's a recipe for disaster. Oral health should be a top priority to someone with a disease such as osteoporosis.

Alzheimer's Disease

A connection has been shown between people who lose teeth before the age of 35 and those who end up developing Alzheimer's.

HIV/AIDS

As with diabetes, HIV/AIDS are diseases that drastically reduce your immune system's ability to cope with infection and disease. The added risk of poor oral health is not a welcome risk.

Cardiovascular Disease

Lots of medical research suggests that there is a strong link between heart disease, clogged arteries, and inflammation or infection of the oral tissues. These symptoms can lead to heart attack or stroke.

How can I protect my oral health?

The best way to prevent poor oral health from gripping your mouth is to maintain regular oral health habits. It's simple and easy to do. Just brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. It also helps to limit the amount of sugar-rich foods that you consume.

Rinsing your mouth out with water after meals does quite a bit to wash away the bacteria that causes plaque and tartar. Rinsing with water also does a good job of washing away larger food particles that can get stuck between teeth during meals.

Don't forget to replace your toothbrush every couple of months. If you have a toothbrush with frayed bristles, your toothbrush needs to be thrown out! Germs and bacteria love to hang out in damaged bristles.

Lastly, give us a call today at (602) 900-1609 to schedule a cleaning and exam! Don't forget regular dental checkups!

References:

1. Bonner P. The link between periodontal disease and systemic health: a scientific update. Dent Today. July 1999:88-89.
2. Fisher M. Thoughts to chew on. Accessed April 2000.
3. Scannapieco FA. Role of oral bacteria in respiratory infection. J Periodontol. 1999;70:793-802.
4. Limeback H. Implications of oral infections on systemic diseases in the institutionalized elderly with a special focus on pneumonia. Ann Periodontol. 1998;3:262-275.
5. Scannapieco FA, Papandonatos GD, Dunford RG. Associations between oral conditions and respiratory disease in a national sample survey population, Ann Periodontol. 1998;3:251-256.
6. Williams P. Scientists discover first bacterial enzyme that activates blood-clotting—links gum health and heart disease in humans. Accessed April 2000.
7. The American Academy of Periodontology. Ask Your Periodontist About Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease. Chicago, IL: The American Academy of Periodontology.
8. Mattila KJ. Dental infections as a risk factor for acute myocardial infarction. Eur Heart J. 1993;14(suppl K):51-53.
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12. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Diabetes and periodontal disease—a guide for patients. Available at: http://www.nidr.nih.gov/pubs/diabetes/text.htm. Accessed April 2000.
13. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral opportunistic infections: links to systemic diseases.
14. Den-Tel-Net. The diabetic patient and periodontal therapy. Available at: http://biz.onramp.net/Den-Tel-Net/Den-Tel-Net/dtn95/perio1095.html. Accessed April 2000.
15. Diabetes Forecast. Is gum disease hurting your control? Available at: http://www.diabetes.com/news/19981103-01.html. Accessed April 2000.
16. Ryan ME, Ramamurthy NS, Sorsa T, Golub LM. MMP-mediated events in diabetes. Ann NY Acad Sci.1999;878:311-334.
17. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Preterm low birthweight babies. Accessed April 2000.
18. Offenbacher S, Katz V, Fertik G, et al. Periodontal infection as a possible risk factor for preterm low birth weight. Available at: http://www.perio.org/journal/abstracts/October/1103.html. Accessed April 2000.



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595 N Dobson Rd B-34, Chandler, AZ 85224

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