We all know that oral health is important. Poor oral health can cause us pain and discomfort, inhibit our ability to speak and eat, and it can result in a poor appearance that affects our self-esteem. Additionally, research is finding that our oral health is related to the overall health of the rest of our bodies. In some cases, poor oral care can actually cause disease, but it can also be an indication of a problem elsewhere in the body.
Oral Indicators of Systemic Disease
In examining the mouth, it's possible to identify the early warning signs of systemic diseases. Like diabetes and AIDS, systemic diseases affect a larger portion of the body or the body as a whole. The mouth can display early warning signs of a systemic disease. Formations of oral lesions and other similar problems in the mouth can be an early indication of systemic illnesses. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, as much as 90% of all systemic diseases present early warning signs through oral symptoms.
Saliva is the Key to Diagnostics
In many cases, saliva can reveal the presence of a number of medical conditions, even those that might otherwise be more difficult to diagnose. The cortisol levels in children can be used to determine stress levels, while bone proteins in the saliva of adults is indicative of the onset of osteoporosis. Additionally, saliva can reveal the early indicators of certain types of cancer.
Additionally, saliva has long been used to detect illegal drugs in an individual, helping in employment screenings and court-ordered drug testing. Similar technology makes it possible to detect hepatitis or HIV infections, when the antibodies and hormones present in saliva are examined. Today, saliva test strips are commercially available for the detection of the HIV virus.
Poor Oral Care Can Cause Heart Problems
Sometimes, poor oral care can result in the development of other health problems, such as endocarditis. When you fail to take proper care of your teeth, germs and bacteria can get into the blood supply and travel to the heart. Once there, the germs or bacteria can infect the inner lining of the heart, or the endocardium.
Additionally, those same germs and bacteria can cause the inflammation or infections that are responsible for cardiovascular disease. The inflammation can cause arteries to become clogged or increase the risk of stroke in addition to causing heart disease.
Gum Disease is Often the Culprit
Today, gum disease is the most common form of inflammation people develop, becoming a chronic condition for many adults. The problem is that it presents a much larger problem than just presenting a telltale sign of poor oral care. Chronic gum disease causes the gums to become a magnet for bacteria, which then gets filtered into the bloodstream. Once there, it can take a number of routes, wreaking havoc throughout the body. By attaching itself to other organs, such as the heart, the bacteria then produce the inflammation that's the precursor to the development of other diseases.
Taking Care of Your Mouth Can Control Diabetes
If you're diabetic, the chances are good that you have gum disease or some other indicator of poor oral health. The converse is also true. By seeking treatment from an emergency dentist Calgary, you may be able reduce your need for insulin. Similarly, taking steps to control diabetes often results in a better or improved oral condition, says Solomon Amar, DMD, PhD, of the Center for Anti-inflammatory Therapeutics at Boston University School of Dental Medicine. There seems to be no question that the two conditions are related, though further research may be able to provide more detailed information on how diabetes and gum disease are related.
There's no question that oral health is related to our overall health, though additional studies may reveal more about the correlation. In the meantime, we can take advantage of this relationship by using better oral care practices to help reduce the risks of developing other diseases. By taking care of our teeth and gums and getting regular check-ups, we may also be able to discover early warning signs of other illnesses that might otherwise go unnoticed for too long.