Even among people who pay the proper amount of attention to their oral health, there’s often a lack of understanding about how tooth and gum health affect overall health. Many people are diligent about oral care, but consider this to be an area that’s fully separate from health concerns in the rest of the body.
At St. John’s Orthodontics, we’re here to help educate you on how oral health – from braces to other areas – can impact your overall health. Here are some basics to know.
Oral Health Basics
The teeth and gums don’t simply exist in a vacuum, and the mouth is linked to many other elements of health. Preventing things like cavities and gum disease may help you avoid other serious conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Many systemic health conditions will show up with noticeable signs in the mouth before anywhere else. Regular exams from an orthodontist are important – if you can’t pinpoint the cause of a given health symptom, you may want to see if it’s related to something in the mouth.
Related Health Conditions
There are several health conditions connected to the mouth:
• Dementia: A noticeable side effect of dementia is poor oral hygiene, which leads to plaque buildup and gingivitis.
• Heart conditions: Gum disease can link to heart conditions, so irritated or infected gums may require a visit to a cardiologist.
• Diabetes: Many symptoms of diabetes show up in the mouth, including periodontal disease, loose-feeling teeth and other signs.
• Osteoporosis: Loss of bone tissue can lead to changes in the jaw bones, which might show as loose teeth or receding gums.
• Heartburn: Nighttime acid reflux can be tough to diagnose because it occurs during sleep, but your dentist may notice it due to eroded enamel on the upper back molars.
• Eating disorders: Many eating disorders will come with eroding enamel due to exposure to stomach acid or as a result of poor nutrition.
Research differs on whether gum disease is linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. The ADA has not made definitive statements here.
To learn more about oral health and its connection to overall health, or to find out about affordable braces options to help with these efforts, speak to the pros at St. John’s Orthodontics today.