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The Connection Between Oral Health and Medical Health

Your trip to the dentist is a crucial investment in your overall health.

If you’re looking at your scheduled dental check-up, and wondering whether to skip it, consider this: your oral health affects your overall health, and poor oral health has been linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease to strokes.

You know that good oral health is what allows you to smile, laugh, chew, swallow, taste and express your emotions through facial expressions, but did you know that without good oral health, you’re at risk of a whole host of other potential diseases?

Your trip to the dentist every six months can help detect issues like cavities and gum disease before they get too serious. With x-rays, dentists can find problems, like bone loss, beneath the surface. Your dentist may be able to explain why you are experiencing facial pain, or helping you to understand why the left side of your mouth appears to be drooping. A dentist can also detect signs of oral cancer and handle buildups of plaque that even the most diligent brusher may have missed.

Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body

Bacteria can enter your body through your mouth, which serves as an entry point for your digestive and respiratory systems. Ordinarily, your routines of daily flossing and brushing, as well as your body’s natural defense systems, are enough to keep bacteria at bay. But trips to the dentist can reveal when bacteria have penetrated your natural defenses, potentially causing issues such as tooth decay or gum disease.

This can happen even if you’re regularly flossing and brushing. Having poor oral health can be genetic, and at times it can be an unintended side effect of a medication you’re taking. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines and painkillers, can cause xerostomia or dry mouth. Without the flow of saliva to handle acids produced by bacteria, you may be more vulnerable to disease.

Plus, professional dental cleanings are the only way to remove buildups of tartar, which can trap bacteria along your gums.

Conditions that may be improved through better oral health

Researchers have found that treating gum disease can help with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and strokes. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, don’t skip those dental cleanings! Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes in the body that can affect your oral health. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best way to protect your baby’s health during pregnancy.

Some studies show that routine dental care can help your lungs and bloodstream by helping to reduce bacteria that can result in certain conditions with your lungs and heart.

Certain diseases can also make you more vulnerable to oral disease. People with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, eating disorders, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis can all benefit from regular dental checkups.

Protect your health

Don’t skip those checkups! That’s the most effective way to detect problems before they get serious. Always brush and floss regularly, avoid smoking, and replace your toothbrush when the bristles get worn, advises the American Dental Association.

And if you ever experience any sudden pain in your mouth, call your dentist. Oral health is deeply connected to your overall health, and taking care of your teeth means taking care of your health. Schedule your regular checkup today!


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