There is an old saying that tells us that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to Dr. Harry McCool, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, your mouth can be a “door” as well since many oral health issues lead to systemic issues. An issue is thought to be systemic when it affects your entire “system”; in other words, your body.
The opposite is also true in that many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health, despite your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is crucial to protect your health by understanding this connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. Your life and your teeth may depend on it.
Although it is all microscopic, human beings are a habitat for an entire ecosystem of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Many living bacteria call our mouths home though most of it is harmless to us. Maintaining a regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually keep these microorganisms in check. However, when the right conditions for these bacteria are met, usually as a result of neglecting one’s dental hygiene, these bacteria in our mouths can turn minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic conditions.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Studies show that a link exists between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis is when an infection from one part of your body such as from an infected tooth, spreads to the lining of your heart through your bloodstream, compromising the heart muscles. There is also research that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes increase with exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. Scientists have also uncovered a link between poor oral health in expectant mothers and their children being born prematurely.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Alternatively, doctors have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths through symptoms. It is a well known fact that gum disease is more prevalent among patients with uncontrolled diabetes and its’ presence can be an indication that a person should have a check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). Lesions in the mouth can be an indicator of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may be a sign of the onset of osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones and makes them brittle. Declining oral health is also common during the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
So your teeth have got your back, but what can you do to look out for them? Dr. McCool recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and nourishes bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Keeping your body properly hydrated is also vital as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and neutralizes some of the acids from food that eat away at our tooth enamel. A healthy diet with very little added sugar is also recommended. Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. McCool in the Lilburn GA area to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. McCool today call (770) 450-4407 or schedule an appointment online.