Oral health is a window to your general health! Did you know that many diseases first manifest in the mouth? Serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have associated oral symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums, ulcers, dry mouth, bad breath, and metallic taste. If your dentist detects these or other signs of disease, he may refer you to a medical doctor for evaluation–a visit to your dentist could save your life!
Conditions in the mouth can affect the rest of the body as well. When proper brushing and flossing techniques are not utilized, this can cause build-up of normal oral bacteria. The body’s immune system responds to the increase in bacteria with swelling, and this in turn can cause problems elsewhere in the body; infection from dental bacteria can travel elsewhere in the body, leading to serious illness. Research is currently underway that explores the possible mouth-body connection in rheumatoid arthritis, certain lung conditions, pre-term labor in pregnant women, and obesity.
Certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS are commonly associated with increased dental problems. Although proper dental care is important for the general population, individuals with these conditions may need to visit the dentist more often for routine and restorative care.
- The Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00001
- WebMD.com http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oral-health-the-mouth-body-connection
- The American Dental Association http://www.ada.org/2574.aspx
For a free print-out, see the Delta Dental Insurance website here http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/connection-oral-health.pdf