When most of us think about oral health we think about the importance of maintaining a healthy smile and having good strong teeth that can allow us to eat what we want. Hardly do we make the connection between mouth and body. The mouth and the body are connected, and the health of one will affect the health of the other. Today, holistic dentists are advising that taking care of your overall health without taking care of your oral health isn’t helpful – if you want to be completely healthy you should take care of both body and mouth.
Dentists are trained to diagnose for various conditions just by looking in your mouth. They can tell whether you are developing certain chronic illnesses by looking at the condition of your gums, your teeth, your palate, tongue and other areas of the mouth. Many people’s lives have been saved because their dentist was able to diagnose a condition before it became too serious and referred them to a specialist. Here are just a few of the conditions that your dentist can help diagnose:
It has become clear to experts that many times diabetes first shows up in the mouth. In the early stages of the disease, when you have no other symptoms what is happening in your mouth may be telling. The most telling sign is ulcers and sores in the gums and mouth. These frequent infections are not normal and they may a be a sign that your body is not able to properly regulate blood sugar. Diabetics also tend to have less saliva in the mouth than normal. This leads to a dry mouth and bad breath and one may feel the urge to hydrate often. These are all things that your dentist can easily pick up on.
Scientists have established that people who have severe gum disease are also at risk of developing heart disease. Bacteria from your mouth travels through the bloodstream to the heart and there cause inflammation which can cause heart disease. How can a dentist help with this? There are two ways; the first is that they will help you avoid gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the development of plaque around the teeth. By giving you regular cleanings your dentist will make sure that you don’t develop any tartar deposits. In the event that you already have gum disease your dentist will try his best to treat it or keep it under control.
Oral health and pregnancy
It is very important to be as healthy as possible when one is pregnant. Many women will adjust their diet, get exercise and get enough rest to make sure that their fetus is developing properly, but they overlook oral health. Research has shown that women who suffer gum disease during pregnancy tend to have higher negative outcomes – they can miscarry, they can have premature births or they may even lose the baby. During pregnancy it is very important to make sure that you have good oral care – see your dentists a few times in the course of the nine month period to make sure that there are no problems that may be lurking.
How can you improve the mouth/body connection?
If you want to make sure that your oral health and overall health are in good shape make sure to do the following:
• Eat a healthy diet – diet is the most important factor for health. People who eat a good diet will tend to have fewer oral problems and they remain in good health for most of their lives. Eat lots of plant based foods with a few proteins at every meal and make sure that you eat only healthy carbs. Avoid sugar and sugary drinks, and if you indulge make sure that you brush and rinse with mouthwash afterwards.
• Don’t smoke – smoking will not only discolor your teeth, it can also lead to gum disease which in turn can lead to heart disease. Smoking can also lead to cancer.
• Drinking too much alcohol is not health either for your mouth or your health. There are many diseases which are linked with drinking too much alcohol. It is not advisable to cut alcohol completely – a glass of wine a day has many benefits, but make sure that you don’t drink more than that. If you do make sure to eat food that will absorb the alcohol and also drink lots of water.
• Brush and floss at least twice a day. Many of us are busy and this is not always possible, so you should make it a point to brush your teeth immediately you get out of bed in the morning and last thing before you retire for the night. Using a good mouthwash during the day will prevent the accumulation of bacteria that leads to bad breath and plaque.
• Start oral health early – if you are a parent it is your responsibility to ensure that your kids develop string, healthy teeth and adopt good oral hygiene habits from an early age. Make brushing part of their routine and explain to them the value of a clean mouth in ways that they can understand. You should find them a pediatric dentist who makes them feel comfortable so that they don’t develop a fear of dental procedures.
• If you notice anything out of the ordinary in your mouth it is very important to see your dentist and find out what it is. It could be something as simple as a small bump or a discoloration or even a change in taste that cannot be explained. Your dentist should be able to do a proper examination and let you know if you ought to see a specialist.
Lastly, if your dentist recommended that you see a specialist you shouldn’t ignore his advice. Early diagnosis, whatever the condition, can make a big difference. It is better to see a specialist and be assured that there is nothing to worry about, that to ignore a potentially fatal illness.