Dentistry is about much more than clean teeth. Dentists care about you as a whole person—which includes how oral health connects to general physical health. A problem in the mouth can affect the rest of your body, and vice versa.
Diseases That Damage Oral Health
If you have certain health conditions elsewhere in your body, we can sometimes see signs of it in your gums, teeth, or oral tissues. It’s also important that you tell us about conditions you have and share your medical records with us.
These conditions might include (but are not limited to):
- Osteoporosis: If your body has a widespread problem of bone fragility, you may be at risk of losing teeth and jaw bone mass.
- Diabetes: This can lead to a weakened immune system, which can then make gum disease more likely, as the bacteria that cause it can multiply when the immune system is compromised. This can show up as bleeding gums or bad breath.
- HIV or AIDS: This virus can lead to oral sores or warts, blisters, cavities, patches on the tongue, gingivitis, and jawbone loss.
Leukemia, pancreatic cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and other conditions can also cause changes in your oral or dental health. Your dentist might notice oral ulcers, inflamed gums, other gum issues, and/or dry mouth.
In fact, we might be able to notice a condition before your family doctor does. As examples, our x-ray scans may help us see early signs of bone loss, or your jaw soreness could be connected to a heart problem—or even be a warning sign of an impending heart attack.
Can Poor Dental Habits Cause Diseases?
Some studies have found a link between oral health and serious diseases. Not all of these connections are fully understood, but some diseases can definitely be worsened or caused by poor oral hygiene. Examples include:
- Gum Disease: Gum disease causes both an overgrowth of bacteria and tissue inflammation. This can be linked to congested arteries, heart conditions, strokes, and even complications in pregnancy.
- Oral Cancer: If we detect cancer in your mouth during a regular checkup, your team will have to move quickly to treat it. Oral cancer kills thousands of Americans per year. And it can be caused by neglecting to fully clean one’s teeth and gums.
Of the billions of bacteria in your mouth, most of them don’t cause problems most of the time. Your immune system can keep them under control, especially if you brush and floss regularly. But if you don’t floss at all or don’t brush your teeth enough, these bacteria can multiply and travel through your bloodstream to other bodily systems.
How Can You Fight These Diseases?
Some diseases are caused or worsened by bad dental hygiene habits, but the effects are fairly simple to combat. A few disease-fighting habits you can cultivate include:
- Scheduling Twice-Yearly Dental Checkups: Put these on your calendar in advance, and keep your appointments. This lets us catch serious problems, like cancer or gum disease, before they develop too much.
- Avoid Damaging Substances: If you quit smoking and/or chewing tobacco, you can give your teeth and gums much more life for many years. Drinking less alcohol can help a lot too.
- Brush and Floss: Brush your teeth and gums for two to three minutes, a couple of times per day. Start the moment you wake up—after bacteria have been growing for 6–8 hours undisturbed during the night.
Contact Timeless Smiles for a Healthier You!
At Timeless Smiles, we always remember that we’re working on your face, the main way you interact with people.
Our work is all about your smile, facial expressions, emotions, and voice. It’s about eating, chewing, kissing, and so much more that makes us human—including how you feel when you look in the mirror and your self-image. So, make an appointment, and let us take care of you as part of our dental family.