What is the Oral-Systemic Link?
You’ve always heard that it’s important to take care of your teeth. Brush and floss every day, and see the dentist for good oral health. But did you know that your oral health could directly affect your overall health? And the road goes both ways—problems with your overall health show signs in your mouth, too. Did you know that gum disease increases your risk of heart attack by 50%? Did you know that plaque buildup in your mouth can be an indicator of and contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries? These mouth-body connections are called the “oral-systemic link.” Your Onalaska dentist, Dr. RJ Ochsner, explains the important ways your body systems work together for better or worse.
Infection in your gums can significantly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, low birth weight babies, bacterial pneumonia and more. In fact, gum disease is directly linked to at least 52 other systemic diseases. If you get gum disease you may be at a higher risk of developing health problems in these areas because:
- Your mouth makes a cozy home for bacteria to thrive.
- Your gums are full of blood vessels that can quickly move bacterial infections like gum disease into other parts of your body.
- Gum disease is a sign of chronic inflammation, which can contribute to many other systemic diseases.
Gum disease is an inflammation of your gum tissue that has many other negative side effects. In order to protect your mouth from gum disease and protect your overall health, it’s important to know your risk factors and to ask your dentist about prevention. Here’s what we know about gum disease and other diseases:
- In the case of diabetes, studies show a clear association between periodontal disease (gum disease) and a rise in blood sugar. But on the bright side, treating your gum disease is likely to also improve your blood sugar levels.
- If you have either gum disease or heart disease, you’re at a much greater risk of having the other. Each of these diseases leaves similar bacteria in your blood.
- Women may be at an increased risk of developing gum disease during pregnancy because hormonal changes make it harder for them to fight off illness. Gum disease in pregnancy has also been linked to low birth weight, which is a negative symptom for newborns.
- Because your mouth is a part of your respiratory system, improving oral care can help treat and prevent respiratory problems and lung disease.
Daily brushing and flossing are incredibly important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. But if you have gum disease, it’s important to treat the infection, which means more than just brushing and flossing or scaling and root planing. Neighborhood Smiles can prescribe a special rinse to get your infection under control.
Oral Health & Stress
Occlusion is the resting position of your teeth and jaw when it’s closed. If your teeth cross over each other in an unhealthy way, you have malocclusion. Malocclusion (also called a bad bite) is the number one reason people are referred to the orthodontist. A bad bite can cause problems with speaking and breathing and cause chronic pain in your jaw known as TMJ.
Any or all of these issues can cause you stress and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. And as we know, sleep is very important for maintaining good overall health. If you think your oral health is getting in the way of you catching those zzz’s, talk to your Onalaska dentist. Chronic snoring or sleep apnea is another oral-systemic link associated with numerous diseases, that Dr. Ochsner can help with.
While the oral-systemic link is usually a medical term, we think that your social and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Your confidence and personal satisfaction in life can be greatly impacted by how healthy and clean your smile is. One study showed that a whiter smile led to more job offers, higher salaries, and even a better chance of getting asked on a second date. If you’re shy about your smile for any reason, talk to your dentist about all the ways that improving your oral health can improve the rest of your life, too.
If you have any health problems that you haven’t shared with your Onalaska dentist, make an appointment at Neighborhood Smiles today. Don’t wait to get your oral health and total body health on the right track.