Your body and your mouth are connected, figuratively and literally. In the past, your doctor and dentist rarely served the same function. If your head hurt, you’d visit a doctor, if you had a toothache you’d visit a dentist. Nowadays, the link between doctors and dentists is growing stronger because oral health has proven to be directly related to the health of the body.
Unfortunately, what happens in your mouth doesn’t always stay in your mouth. There are numerous medical conditions that are influenced by your oral health. The bacteria that can build up on your teeth and gums can lead to serious infections.
Unless this bacteria is controlled and eventually destroyed, your body is in big trouble.
These conditions in particular relate your oral health to your body’s health:
- Diabetes: If you are a diabetic, your body has a hard time processing blood sugar. Pair this lack of sugar management with an inflammation in the mouth caused by gum disease and you’re in for some serious complications. Gum disease also impairs the body’s ability to use insulin to stabilize your blood sugar.
- Heart disease: With gum disease comes inflammation. This swelling of the gums can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels, increasing your risk of having a heart attack. If your blood vessels are inflamed they will not allow the right amount of blood to travel to the heart and the rest of your body, causing your blood pressure to rise. You’re also at risk for strokes when you have gum disease.
- Pregnancy: Babies who are born too early or with a low birth weight are targets for health problems like lung and heart conditions. Although there are many factors that can lead to premature birth and low weight, gum disease appears to play a part. Inflammation and infection of the gums can interfere with the developmental process of the fetus as it grows in the womb.
Taking proper care of your teeth is a must. Besides brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily, you need regular dental checkups and cleanings. The Canadian Dental Association recommends bi-yearly appointments with your dentist. In some cases, you may have to visit the dentist more than twice a year. This depends on your overall oral health and if you are having any procedures done.
Your body and mouth are attached symbolically and actually. If it hurts in your mouth, chances are it’ll hurt somewhere else if you don’t take care of it in time!