It’s commonly said that “eyes are the window to the soul”. However, to a dentist, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, it can be a “door” as well. Many oral health issues can lead to systemic issues if left untreated. A health issue that is said to be systemic affects your entire “system”, in this case, your body. The reverse is also true: many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health, although you may do your best to care for your teeth and gums. You can protect yourself by recognizing this connection between the health of your mouth and your body. It might just save your life.
They are invisible to our eyes but we are host to countless living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Our mouths are host to living bacteria, most of it is harmless. Regular oral health care such as brushing your teeth at least at least twice daily and routine flossing can often keep this bacteria at bay. However, left unchecked these bacteria in our mouths can transform oral health issues such as periodontitis also known as gum disease or tooth decay into major systemic ailments.
Links have been found between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis occurs when an infection from one part of your body such as your mouth, infiltrates your bloodstream and affixes to the lining of your heart, weakening it. Research also suggests that clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes can all be caused by the bacteria from oral health issues weakening your heart’s natural defenses. A connections has also been found between poor oral health in mothers and their children being born preterm.
In the case of your bodily health affecting your oral health, studies show that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths in some form. Gum disease is more widespread among those with uncontrolled diabetes than among the general population and can be a clue that further medical tests may be in order. Lesions affecting the inside of the mouth may be a sign of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Loss of teeth could be an indicator of osteoporosis, a disease that causes weakening and brittleness of bones. Declining oral health can also be a warning sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
You may be asking: What can I do to protect my oral health? Dr. Ahrabi of Oakton Dental Center recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and feeds the bacteria. Properly hydrating is also important as our saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and also neutralizes some of the acids from sugary and starchy foods we eat. These acids can weaken tooth enamel and lead to infections. A healthy diet with as little added sugar as possible is also important.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Ahrabi to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Ahrabi today call 703.382.6789 or schedule an appointment online.