The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but your mouth is the gateway to your body. While we’ve always understood the importance of what we put into our mouths as having a lot to do with our how healthy we are, we’re beginning to discover that how we look after the mouth and teeth has several startling effects on our overall health.
We take a closer look at some of the startling findings that are causing us to take a whole new look at dentistry as a means of preserving our health.
Poor Oral Health Linked to Heart Attacks, Strokes
A study of over 1,000 medical records by academics at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry produced a startling result. People with gum disease were twice as likely to have heart attacks and three times more likely to have a stroke than people with good oral health.
Gum disease begins with neglect – and it’s not just a matter of not brushing teeth properly. No matter how faithfully you brush and floss, gum disease-causing bacteria in the mouth find nooks and crannies to breed. That’s one of the reasons why regular dental check-ups and visits to the oral hygienist are important.
How do your gums come to affect your cardiovascular system? Here’s the route infections that begin in the gums take. Gum-disease bacteria enter the bloodstream. Here, they attach to fatty plaques in blood vessels, directly increasing the risk of a blockage. The immune system kicks in bringing with it inflammation which in turn reduces blood flow through swollen vessels and increasing the chances of a clot developing. Finally, the bacteria can infect the membrane around the heart itself.
The Strange Relationship Between Gum Disease and Diabetes
Around the world, the growing incidence of diabetes is causing concern. Oddly enough, there’s a reciprocal link between diabetes and gum disease. Researchers noticed that when gum disease is successfully treated, the need for insulin is reduced, and when diabetes symptoms improve, the gums improve along with them.
That’s not the same as saying that gum disease is a risk factor in causing diabetes, but it does point towards a situation in which healthy gums could at least alleviate ris among peope ho already have diabetes.
Heathy Gums for a Healthy Pregnancy
Although there are many dental issues a dentist might hesitate to treat while you’re pregnant, gum disease isn’t one of them. Pregnant women are likelier to get gum disease, possibly because of the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, and gum disease has been linked to premature births.
A 2010 study indicated that successful non-drug treatment of gum disease (scaling and planning treatment) could reduce the chances of premature birth.
It’s no Secret: Oral Health and Physical Health are Linked
There are still several health conditions with links to oral health being investigated. Often, researchers will say that they’re unsure of the exact mechanism, but it seems likely that as with heart disease and strokes, bacteria in the mouth spreading to other parts of the body and causing inflammation will have a role to play.
Taking good care of your teeth helps you to keep your gums healthy too. Going to the dentist in Port Coquitlam isn’t just about keeping your smile beautiful, it’s also good for your overall health.