The saying goes that “the eyes are the window to the soul”. However, to Dr. Tom Trinkner and other dentists, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, it can be a “door” as many oral health issues can lead to systemic issues. An issue is said to be systemic when it affects your entire “system”: your body. Alternatively, many health issues can cause a decline in your oral health, even though you may be putting forth your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is important to protect yourself by understanding this connection between your mouth and your body. It might save your life.
We cannot see it but we humans are an ecosystem for an entire world of living organisms; on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Our mouths are host to many living bacteria- most of this it is harmless. Maintaining a regular oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually keep these microorganisms in check. However, in certain conditions, these bacteria in can transform minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay into major systemic conditions.
Research has established a link between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis can occur when an infection from one part of your body such as from an infected tooth, enters your bloodstream and spreads to the lining of your heart, compromising the muscle there. There is also research that indicates that clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes can all be worsened by exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. A link has also been found between poor oral health in expectant mothers and their children being born prematurely.
Conversely, studies show that 90% of systemic medical conditions reveal themselves in our mouths. Gum disease is more prevalent among those with uncontrolled diabetes and can be an indicator that an appointment with a doctor for further diabetic testing may be called for. Lesions in the mouth can be an indication of some autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Lost teeth may be a sign of osteoporosis, a disease which causes bones to become weak and brittle. Declining oral health can also be a sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
You may be asking: What can I do to protect my oral health? Dr. Trinkner recommends brushing at least twice daily or after meals and flossing daily to remove the plaque that forms on our teeth and feeds bacteria, leading to tooth decay. Keeping properly hydrated is also vital as saliva washes away excess food that can form plaque and also neutralizes some of the enamel-destroying acids from foods we eat. A healthy diet without added sugar is also recommended.
Most importantly, you should schedule regular appointments with Dr. Trinkner to treat any issues as soon as they arise. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Trinkner today call 803.400.8729 or schedule an appointment online.