Having a healthy mouth is an important part of having a healthy body. If you’ve ever had a rotten tooth, you know your dentist may need to perform a root canal or remove the tooth completely. Both procedures prevent germs from spreading to other parts of your body and causing health complications.
As we age, the connection between your mouth and your overall health becomes even more important. That’s because our mouths are a potential pathway for systemic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, oral cancer and diabetes.
Saliva Keeps You Healthy
It may seem odd, but one important link to your overall health is your saliva. That’s because saliva can protect you from infection: it weakens germs and dissolves food that would otherwise stay on your teeth, gums and tongue.
As we get older, many people experience dry mouth, a condition that limits your ability to produce saliva. Dry mouth has many causes, including as a side effect of many medications. Because saliva is so important, you should contact your dentist or physician if you are experiencing dry mouth.
Gum Disease Increases Your Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke
While many people experience gum disease, know that it can lead to other health problems, especially if left untreated. Perhaps most alarming is the connection between untreated gum disease and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The germs present in your mouth are more likely to enter your blood stream if you have gum disease. These bacteria may travel to your heart or brain, which can damage the blood vessels and increase the likelihood of blockages forming, ultimately resulting in heart disease or stroke .
Proper medical treatment combined with regular dental care can help to identify and treat these issues, resulting in an improvement of your overall health.
Your Dentist Can Check for Oral Cancer
If you need more motivation to get to the dentist regularly, consider this: dentists are trained to check for signs of oral cancer during your exams. When you receive regular checkups, this form of cancer is more likely to be found early, which in turn means you’ll be more likely to recover. Without regular checkups, the cancer may travel further through the body before it’s found and identified.
Oral Health Can Help You Control Diabetes
Another connection between your oral health and overall health occurs with patients who have diabetes. If you’re being treated for diabetes, good oral care is very important. Diabetes can make you more vulnerable to gum disease, and gum disease can in turn make it more difficult to control your diabetes. In both cases, your dentist and physician can work with you to help you best manage the condition.
Keeping a Healthy Mouth
Maintaining a healthy mouth starts by brushing and flossing each day. You should also keep up with your regular dental exams twice a year and get treatment for issues such as gum disease when you need it.
The information on this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Tooth Wisdom® and Oral Health America do not recommend or endorse any specific dentists, products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned. See full Terms & Conditions.