Most people generally know that good oral/dental health is important for the preservation of your teeth, but most don’t realize that their oral health impacts health overall. The state of your oral health has a significant effect on overall wellness. The reason for this is because, if your teeth and gums are unhealthy, the bacteria residing in your mouth can travel through your bloodstream into other parts of your body. This can cause and accelerate disease, and in some cases, can even lead to early death.
Signs of an Unhealthy Mouth
Ideally, gums should be pale and pink. Tooth decay can happen when bacteria builds up in the mouth and attacks the teeth and gums, leading to inflammation. This is called Gingivitis and is the most common, chronic inflammatory condition in the human body. When Gingivitis isn’t addressed, it leads to a more serious issue called Periodontal Disease. This is how your oral health impacts health and wellness overall.
Symptoms of Gingivitis include:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that have dark red areas
- Gums that bleed easily
- Bad breath
- Foul taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Gums that are tender or painful
Once Periodontal disease sets in, symptoms also can include loss of jaw bone, broken teeth, and tooth loss, but this condition of oral health impacts health issues throughout your body (see below).
When bacteria collect on and around the teeth, it forms a substance called plaque. If plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it can harden and turn into tarter. Tarter is a much harder substance that can’t be removed by a toothbrush or floss; it requires a professional dental cleaning to eliminate. The dangerous thing about tarter is that it also creates a shield of sorts over the bacteria which traps it, causing it to further inflame and damage the teeth and gums.
Tarter accumulates under the gum line and between teeth. Plaque and tarter can both be excessive in areas where teeth are crooked or where dental restorations don’t fit properly. These spots can be hard to reach with a toothbrush and are bacteria hotspots.
Causes of Gum Disease
- Poor oral hygiene practices
- Chewing tobacco or smoking
- Dry mouth
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency
- Crooked teeth or poor fitting dental work
- Compromised immune system (Cancer, cancer treatment, HIV, AutoImmune diseases)
- Certain medications including decongestants, antihistamines, some painkillers, diuretics, and some antidepressants which can cause dry mouth. Saliva helps to wash away food and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, which helps keep bacteria levels in check
- Hormonal changes associated with menopause or pregnancy
- Some chronic fungal or viral infections
- Diabetes – Diabetes has a symbiotic relationship with gum diseases. Diabetes can cause gum disease, and gum disease can cause diabetes.
- Some autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Eating disorders such as Bulimia and Anorexia
Gum disease affects 1 in 2 adults and is 2 1/2 times more prevalent than diabetes.
Gum Disease and Poor Oral Health Impacts Health and Wellness overall
If you have chronic Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease, oral bacteria can be passed to other parts of your body and your oral health impacts health overall. Studies have shown that there is evidence of oral bacteria in plaque located in the coronary arteries, and that atherosclerosis can actually be caused by this plaque. In fact, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry studied over 1,000 case histories of people with gum diseases and noted that they were two times more likely to die from a heart attack and three times more likely to have a stroke!
There is also evidence that Gum Disease has a direct causal effect to Endocarditis which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Other studies have shown direct causal effects exist between Gum disease and Peripheral Artery Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, and Stroke. The common denominator for all of these is inflammation.
Women who have unhealthy oral health and become pregnant are more likely to give birth prematurely as well, though the direct link as to why is unknown.
Diabetes and gum disease can both feed off of each other. Because gum disease causes inflammation, this impedes the body’s ability to use insulin in order to keep blood sugar under control. When blood sugar is not under control, inflammation levels in the body rise, making it more prone to infection (which includes the gums) and it becomes a vicious cycle. There has been extensive research done on the diabetes-oral health connection.
Many people aren’t aware that they have serious conditions such as Diabetes. Because your oral health can be indicative of other underlying health problems, your dentist can better understand the clues and alert you to them.
Oral Health: Southtown Dental in San Antonio Texas Can Help!
Establishing a good oral hygiene practice is something that you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Brush and floss at least twice daily and be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months. Using a mouth rinse can also help control harmful bacteria levels. Click here for non-toxic dental health tips.
One of the most important things is to have regular check-ups with your dentist. Dr. Guillory has over 25 years of experience and has seen thousands of patients. Dr. Lopez is also an experienced and excellent dentist.
We understand that your oral health is vital for wellness and can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy. We will also work to restore your mouth to optimal health if you do have gum disease, so that your oral health impacts health in a positive direction.
We also understand that communication is key between doctor and patient and are willing to spend the necessary time with you in order to understand any other factors that may be contributing to problems with your teeth and gums.
Southtown Dental is located in the heart of San Antonio in the King William Historic District. We service patients in the downtown and surrounding areas and can offer same day service if needed.
Dr. Guillory and his staff look forward to welcoming you into the Southtown family and keeping you healthy!