Dentist in Milwaukie, Oregon Dr. Sue Walker and her courteous staff want to ensure all of their patients enjoy a lifetime of quality oral health. Besides helping your teeth and gums stay healthy and strong, the state of your oral health can also influence how the rest of your body feels. In recent years, a lot of research has examined the relationship between a person’s oral health and body health. One study found that individuals with a serious gum disease were 40 percent more likely to have an additional chronic condition as well. So how important to your overall health is your oral health, and what can the state of your mouth predict about what’s going on in the rest of your body? Here are a few helpful answers.
Gateway to the Body
To get a better understanding of how your oral health can affect the body, you need to get an idea of what can go wrong inside the mouth to begin with. The bacteria that builds up inside your mouth make your gums more prone to infection. When an infection does occur, your immune system swiftly attacks the infection, which causes your gums to become inflamed. This inflammation will continue to persist until the infection has been brought under control.
Given time, the inflammation will release enough chemicals to eat away at the gums and bone structure used to hold your teeth in place. What results is the severe gum disease, periodontitis. The inflammation you experience in the mouth can cause additional problems in other parts of the body.
Diabetes and Your Oral Health
The strongest connection between the health of your mouth and body can be seen in the relationship that exists between periodontal disease and diabetes. Evidence suggests the inflammation that begins in the mouth can weaken the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Individuals with diabetes have difficulties processing sugar due to a lack of insulin, a naturally occurring hormone that coverts sugar into energy.
Periodontal disease makes diabetes more difficult to control because the inflammation it creates in the mouth impairs the body’s ability to use insulin. When working together, diabetes and periodontitis feed off of each other, as high blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infections to grow. So while periodontitis helps to drive up the body’s blood sugar, diabetes ensures that periodontal disease can continue to thrive in the body. Fortunately for individuals suffering from these conditions, you can use this relationship to treat both diseases, as managing one will help bring the other back under control.
Oral Health and Your Heart
Until recently, dentists and cardiologists believed a connection existed between gum disease and heart disease. When you look at the statistics, you can see why. Approximately 91 percent of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. However, researchers concluded earlier this year that despite what the statistics seem to suggest, gum disease does not proceed heart disease. In actuality, both conditions share common risk factors, which means if a patient has one disease they also have a higher change of developing the other.
While no cause and effect relationship exists between these diseases, the common risk factors the two conditions share can give you an early warning about the healthy of your heart. If you suffer from gum disease, you should discuss your risk of heart disease with a doctor. Since most people don’t realize they have heart disease until they suffer a coronary attack, make sure to tell your doctor about your oral health problems and ask what that could mean about the health of your heart.
The health of your body and mouth are not separate. In order to enjoy the best oral health possible, you need to brush and floss daily and schedule regular checkups with Dr. Walker. Remember, a healthy smile means a healthy life.
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