Dental HealthRoutine visits to our dentists at Spokane Dental can do a lot more than keep your smile looking and feeling great – dentists can also tell a lot about your overall health and the risk you have for any chronic diseases.

Research suggests that your oral health can reveal the condition of your body as a whole. When your mouth is healthy, it’s likely that your overall health is good as well. If your oral health is poor, you may also experience other health problems.

What does the health of your mouth have to do with your health overall? To put it simply, plenty. A glance into a swab of saliva can speak volumes about what's going on inside your body.

Health Conditions and Oral Symptoms

Your mouth serves as a critical vantage point for detecting early symptoms and signs of systemic disease – a disease that affects your entire body. Some systemic conditions such as diabetes or AIDS, first reveal themselves as lesions in the mouth or other oral problems.

In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry states that more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce clear oral symptoms and signs. Since most people undergo regular oral examinations, their dentist is often the first health care provider to diagnose potential health problems and risks in its early stages.

Such diseases include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Leukemia
  • AIDS

Links to Diseases and Infections

Oral health is not only an essential aspect of your appearance and sense of well-being but to your health overall. Gum disease and cavities can contribute to a variety of serious conditions, such as respiratory diseases and diabetes. Cavities that are left untreated can also cause extreme discomfort and lead to more severe infections.

Although bacteria found in the mouth doesn't typically enter your bloodstream, invasive dental treatments, certain medications that compromise the mouth's usual defenses, and even routine flossing and brushing can provide a heightened entry of these microbes when you have gum disease, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

When your immune system is in good health, the presence of this bacteria causes minimal issues. However, if your immune system is weakened, due to disease or cancer treatment, oral bacteria can quickly cause another infection in the body.

Gum Disease and Health Complications

If you forgo fundamental aspects of your oral health; regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits, plaque can build up along your gum line, creating an environment for bacteria to thrive between your teeth and your gums. This type of infection is known as gingivitis. When gingivitis is left unchecked, a more severe disease can develop called periodontitis or gum disease.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a link between periodontal (gum) disease and health complexities such as heart disease and stroke. Women with gum disease also experience higher risks of low birth-weight and pre-term babies.

If you don’t take care of your gums and teeth, poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of health problems including:

  • Heart and organ complications. Mouth infections have an effect on your body's major organs. For example, your heart and your heart's valves can become inflamed from bacterial endocarditis. This condition affects those with damaged heart tissue and heart diseases.
  • Digestion issues. There is a direct connection between digestion and the chemical and physical processes in the mouth. Complications here can lead to issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal failure, as well as other digestive disorders.
  • Oral and facial pain. Oral and facial pain is linked largely to infections of the gums that support our teeth, leading to tooth loss and jaw complications. Gingivitis, the early onset of gum disease, along with advanced gum disease, affects more than 75 percent of the U.S. population each year.
  • Premature labor and low birth weight infants. Pregnant women are more susceptible to concerns such as gum disease because of increased blood flow and potential to affect the infant. When bacteria enter the bloodstream, it will target the fetus, contributing to premature labor and low-birth-weight babies.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes. When you have diabetes, you already have a heightened risk of developing gum disease. Chronic gum disease can make diabetes more difficult to control. Infections can also lead to insulin resistance, which disrupts the body’s ability to control blood sugar.

What You Can Do

Seeing our dentists at Spokane Dental can help keep your mouth in optimal shape and allows your dentist to keep an eye out for developments that can lead to other health issues. A dental exam can also detect poor hygiene, nutrition, the growth of oral issues, and improper jaw alignment. When you visit our dentist, it’s important to provide a complete medical history and any recent health developments, even if they appear to be unrelated to your oral health.

Practicing good oral hygiene at home:

  • Brush twice each day for a minimum of two minutes. Use an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush.
  • Floss once a day to remove plaque from the areas of your mouth your toothbrush has trouble reaching.
  • Maintain a healthy diet that gives your body the nutrients essential to preventing gum disease, such as Vitamin A and C.
  • Avoid tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco and cigarettes are known to contribute to a person's risk of oral cancer and gum disease.
  • Visit our dentists at Spokane Dental regularly for exams and cleaning. Having an expert look over your mouth on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways to detect gum diseases in its early stages.

How Spokane Dental Can Help

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to take care of your teeth, gums, and mouth, the relationship between your overall health and oral health gives you even more. Maintaining good oral habits and visiting your dentist on a regular basis is not just an investment into a healthy smile, but your overall health now and in the future. Call our experts at Spokane Dental today to start your journey towards healthy living.