Scientific research has continually been finding more and more connections between the mouth and the rest of the body. Oral health can be used as a window into one’s overall health. Here are some of the recent findings exposing the interrelatedness of our mouths and bodies.
1. The most commonly known connection between oral health and overall health is heart disease. Patients with periodontal disease (gingivitis) are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those with healthy mouths. This is caused by oral bacteria entering the bloodstream, which attaches to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries, eventually forming clots.
2. Respiratory disease has also been linked to unhealthy oral conditions. Fine droplets which contain germs from the mouth and throat are inhaled into the lungs, potentially impairing breathing, causing infections, or worsening existing lung conditions. Periodontal disease has also been proven to have a role in the contraction of other lung conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema. Brush up!
3. Not only can oral health effect your own body, but it can also affect others! Studies have shown that periodontal disease causes an increase in a chemical called prostaglandin, which is a labor-inducing compound. Increased levels may cause the mother to go into labor prematurely and deliver a baby with low birth weight or other negative health conditions.
4. Multiple studies have recently found a connection between oral health and the brain. In a study done last year in Japan, 4,000 participants over the age of 65 underwent a dental examination and a psychiatric assessment. Comparing those with most of their teeth and those with fewer or no teeth, the latter group were much more likely to experience memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The online journal Behavioral and Brain Functions reported “The loss of sensory receptors around the teeth is linked to some of the dying neurons. This may lead to a vicious cycle. The loss of these brain connections can cause more teeth to fall out, further contributing to cognitive decline.” Treating gingivitis and replacing missing teeth can be a crucial step towards preventing this from happening.
5. And quite possibly the most important connection between oral health and general health is its relation to our psychology. Many studies have found that those with healthy mouths have a more positive view of themselves and the world.
So keep brushing, keep flossing, and come visit us for a dental check up which may affect much more than just your mouth!