The Mouth-Body Connection
Sparkling pearly whites sure do look nice, but before you decide that a smile makeover is what you need to appear healthy, consider a more total body approach. Taking care of your teeth and gums is more than maintaining appearances—it starts from the inside out. Medical practitioners and scientists are beginning to realize the relationship and connection between the mouth and the rest of the body. Problems with oral health don’t just start and end in the mouth; they can travel through the whole body. The more we learn about the mouth-body connection, the more clear it becomes that good oral health is crucial to total body health.
It’s a two-way street
There is evidence to show the relationship between poor oral health and disease. It’s a two-way street and your mouth is the gateway to your body, while also being its crystal ball. Everything that happens in your mouth has an effect throughout your entire body. Conversely, your mouth can highlight health problems that may not have been detected yet.
More than half of Americans travel this road
Gum disease, in all stages of severity, increase your risk for bodily illness. And according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, periodontal disease (gum disease) affects more than 50 percent of the population; therefore, it should be considered a public health problem that requires action. Strategies such as behavior change, education, and regular dental check-ups should be part of the prevention plan. This could drastically change the outlook for other diseases, too, since the periodontal disease can lead to more serious bodily illnesses.
Your mouth, the gatekeeper
Think of your gums as the weather seal of your mouth. Just like the weather seal on the doors of your home, if they’re worn out and broken, then dirt, rain, or snow will get in. The same is true for your mouth. If your teeth and gums aren’t in good health, the seal will be compromised thus letting more bad stuff through to your bloodstream. Your bloodstream is the highway to everywhere in your body, so you don’t want a reckless driver terrorizing the good travelers there.
Bacteria (the reckless driver) that are allowed to build up on your teeth and gums make them more prone to infection. The immune system is triggered to fight the infection, and the gums become inflamed which will only worsen until the infection is treated. If not treated, gum disease could turn into a more serious dental problem like periodontal disease, which could result in tooth and bone loss.
And that’s just what happens in your mouth.
The inflammation that started in your mouth can wreak havoc in the rest of your body, leading to serious illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
To maintain total body health, inflammation in any area of the body must be minimized. The inflammatory response is triggered by bacteria, trauma, or toxins and will not go away until the cause of the immune response (inflammation) is removed. If the cause is gum disease or periodontal disease, this must be treated in order to restore health to your entire body. Chronic inflammation can lead to more serious illnesses, as mentioned above.
What signs to look out for
It’s important to stay vigilant in the fight to maintain good oral health. If you maintain your six-month hygiene visits with Dr. Sexton, these issues will quickly be identified and addressed. But if you notice anything like the symptoms below, or if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, contact us today!
- Unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Regular oral infections
- Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red and swollen, and to bleed easily
- Painful chewing
- Receding gums
At each dental visit, Dr. Sexton will examine your teeth and gums to monitor any changes and keep records so our team can track your oral health over time. We’ll also take X-rays to get a clear picture of the bone structure of your jaw and monitor for bone loss. If Dr. Sexton does diagnose gum disease, he’ll recommend appropriate treatment and counsel you on behavior changes to take control of your health.