Popular wisdom tells us that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” However, to Dr. Frederick Marra, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, your mouth can act as a “door” as well since many oral health problems lead systemic issues. An issue can be called systemic when it affects your entire “system”; in other words, not just your mouth but your body.
The opposite statement can also be true as many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health even with you making your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is beneficial to you to understand this connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. Your life and your teeth may depend on it.
Although it is all invisible to naked eye, human beings are a habitat for an entire ecosystem of living organisms, on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Our mouths are home to a multitude of living bacteria- most of it basically harmless to us. Keeping up with a regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and flossing daily will usually keep these microorganisms under control. However, when the conditions are right for these bacteria, usually as a result of neglecting one’s dental hygiene, these bacteria in our mouths can cause minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay to turn into dangerous systemic conditions.
Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health
Researchers have determined that a link exists between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis is when an infection from another part of your body such as from an infected tooth, spreads to the lining of your heart through your bloodstream, weakening the heart muscles. There are also studies that show that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes increase with the heart’s exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. Scientists have also found a link between poor oral health in pregnant women and their children being born prematurely.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Conversely, doctors have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions can be observed through symptoms presenting in our mouths. It is an established fact that gum disease is more prevalent among people with uncontrolled diabetes. Its’ presence can be an indication that a person that is borderline diabetic should probably have a check-up with their medical doctor or endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). Lesions in the mouth can be a sign of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may signal the onset of osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones and makes them brittle. Declining oral health is also commonly observed during the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene
So your teeth help you but what can you do to help them? Dr. Marra recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and nourishes bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Keeping your body properly hydrated is also a necessity as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and neutralizes some of the acids from food that eat away at our tooth enamel. Maintaining a healthy diet with very little added sugar is also recommended.
Most importantly, if you’re in the Cohoes NY area, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Marra to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Marra today call (518) 650-1930 or schedule an appointment online.