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The Oral and Total Health Connection

iStock_000013325752Small-300x207Many people say there is a connection between mind, body and soul. At West Willow Family Dental, we think “mouth” belongs in the equation as well.

While no one likes having a dirty-feeling mouth, bad breath and painful teeth, many also dislike going to the dentist, period. “I’ll put it off until next month,” is often uttered when pushing off a scheduled dental cleaning or checkup. However, those who wait should know that there are much greater consequences to their health than simply an unclean mouth.

Multiple studies have shown connections between oral and total health issues. Diabetes and heart disease are two ailments that have been linked to poor dental hygiene, and some doctors believe these issues actually exacerbate each other, thereby making them harder to treat in concert.

The issue of mouth and body care has grown so prominent that the World Health Organization has integrated dental health care into disease prevention efforts.

There have been reported links between oral health and the following diseases:
• Endocarditis, an infection of the heart. Bacteria from gums and the mouth affect the heart via the blood stream.
• Periodontitis, an infection of the ligament and bones that support teeth. This has been linked to premature birth and low weight in new babies.
• Osteoporosis, a disease impacting bone density, could lead to oral bone and tooth loss.

Some research has suggested that tooth loss before the age of 35 could be a link to Alzheimer’s disease as well. Diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS also put oral health at a greater risk due to peripheral effects of the illness.

Examinations for total body care
We realize oral care is about much more than the mouth at West Willow Family Dental. During checkups, we screen for cancer, issues in the gums and issues of head, neck, jaw, tongue and salivary glands. We will look for lumps, discoloration and anything else that doesn’t quite look right in the mouth and jaw area during examinations.

These examinations can be the difference between catching a disease early and letting them linger, as these issues often point to a budding problem elsewhere in the body.

Oral care should tie directly into maintaining a healthy body. Dental examinations need to be thought of similarly to seeing a physician for checkups and physical examinations.

The statistics show why these are important: A recent study found that people with serious gum disease are 40 percent more likely to have another chronic disease. Ninety-one percent of people with heart disease have periodontitis compared with 66 percent of those who have this sans heart disease.

Don’t let oral health become a detriment to your total health. Call us today to schedule a checkup. We can help keep you happy and healthy.