Dentist Sherwood Park
Park Dental Wellness Centre
Park Dental Wellness Centre

Mouth Body Connection

Your mouth is a window to your body. Other health professionals are beginning to connect the mouth back to the body, which is something that we, as dental professionals and dentists, have known all along — that oral health Is not separate from general health. In fact, in one recent study, people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.

Why can the health of your mouth effect your whole body?

Understanding how the mouth can affect the body, it helps to understand what can go wrong in the first place. Bacteria that builds up on teeth make gums prone to infection. This sparks the immune system to attack the infection and because of this the gums become inflamed. Inflammation continues unless the infection is brought under control. Over time, inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. The result is gum disease, known as periodontitis. Unfortunately, this inflammation can also cause problems in the rest of the body.

Mouth Body Connection Sherwood Park

Oral Health and Diabetes

The relationship between diabetes and periodontitis is probably the strongest of the connections between the mouth and body. Inflammation in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. Periodontal disease complicates diabetes because the inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin.

To further complicate matters, diabetes and periodontitis have a two-way relationship. High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections. Fortunately, you can use the gum disease-diabetes relationship to your favor: managing one can help bring the other under control. That is why at Park Dental Wellness Centre we offer a comprehensive Periodontal Program for people that are diagnosed with periodontitis.

Oral Health and Heart Disease

Though the reasons are not fully understood, it’s clear that gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% of people with no heart disease. The two conditions have several risk factors in common, such as smoking, unhealthy diet, and excess weight. And some suspect that periodontitis has a direct role in raising the risk for heart disease as well.

The theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels." This can increase the risk for heart attack in a number of ways. Inflamed blood vessels allow less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body, raising blood pressure. There’s also a greater risk that fatty plaque will break off the wall of a blood vessel and travel to the heart or the brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.

Oral Health and Pregnancy

Babies born too early or at a low birth weight often have significant health problems, including lung conditions, heart conditions, and learning disorders. While many factors can contribute to premature or low birth weight deliveries, researchers are looking at the possible role of gum disease. Infection and inflammation in general seem to interfere with a fetus’ development in the womb.

Though men have periodontitis more often than women do, hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk. For the best chance of a healthy pregnancy, we recommend a comprehensive periodontal exam, if you’re pregnant or before you become pregnant to identify whether or not you’re at risk.

Oral Health and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis and periodontitis have an important thing in common, bone loss. The link between the two, however, is controversial. Cram points out that osteoporosis affects the long bones in the arms and legs, whereas gum disease attacks the jawbone. Others point to the fact that osteoporosis mainly affects women, whereas periodontitis is more common among men.

Though a link has not been well established, some studies have found that women with osteoporosis have gum disease more often than those who do not. Researchers are testing the theory that inflammation triggered by periodontitis could weaken bone in other parts of the body.

Oral Health and Other Conditions

The impact of oral health on the body is a relatively new area of study. Some other mouth-body connections under current investigation include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. Treating periodontal disease has been shown to reduce pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lung Conditions. Periodontal disease may make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse, possibly by increasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs.
  • Obesity. Two studies have linked obesity to gum disease. It appears that periodontitis progresses more quickly in the presence of higher body fat.

What Does It All Mean

One thing is clear: the body and mouth are not separate. Your body can affect your mouth and likewise, your mouth can affect your body. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can really help you live well longer. This means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and going for regular dental cleanings and check-ups.

This is why at Park Dental Wellness Centre we gather your full medical history and perform screening for other health conditions. We also work closely with other health care professionals to coordinate your care and make sure your overall health is being taken care of. After all, A Healthy Mouth Is Good for the Body!