New Look Dental March 2011 Newsletter
New Look Dental Newsletter Vol-2
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body: Q&As
Dentists say the mouth is a window to your health. Why?
Poor dental hygiene has been linked to health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Here’s how to keep your gums and teeth in tip-top shape.
There is plenty of evidence that having your teeth cleaned and a mouth free of periodontal disease is good for your health. This is not an entirely new idea. In 1933, Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, was quoted as saying “The presence of dental health is important. Dentistry is a distinctive health service and can extend human life ten years.” Many studies show a correlation between periodontal disease and cardiac disease. Also there is at least one study indicating that treatment of periodontal disease improves vascular function. In addition, evidence indicates that periodontal disease may cause a worsening of a diabetic’s glycemic control. The exact mechanism is still being debated and studied, but the scientific literature makes a strong case for the connection of vascular disease, diabetes control, and periodontal disease.
There are two answers to this question. First, the mouth is a potential portal of entry to infections and inflammation, which have been linked to or implicated in all sorts of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and even pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. The common denominator to all of these diseases is inflammation, in which the body mounts an exaggerated response to irritants that causes unintended tissue injury. So if destructive bacteria or bacterial products enter the bloodstream, as in periodontal disease, other conditions can be aggravated or triggered.
Second, the mouth is a relatively easy place to observe changes in one’s health, offering a window to the rest of the body. Many metabolic disorders can be observed by changes in oral health including diabetes, some immune deficiencies, leukemia, some autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and more. There are also interesting statistical correlations between longevity and tooth loss. There is a staggeringly high mortality rate when someone loses all of his or her teeth. And 50 percent of patients die within seven years after becoming edentulous (meaning they’ve lost teeth). It is not clear if this is just an association or a causal relationship.
If you notice any of the following signs, please call and make an appointment with our office as soon as possible: