The Link Between Your Mouth and Your Health

“The eyes are the window to the soul” is a well-known saying. However, to Dr. Byron Desbordes and other dentists, the mouth can be the “window” to a view of your general health. In fact, your mouth is a “door”  as well since many oral health issues can cause systemic issues. An issue is classified as systemic when it affects your entire “system”; in this case that system is your body.

The opposite has also been observed as many health issues bring along a decline in your oral health, despite your best efforts to care for your teeth and gums. It is a good idea to recognize this connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. It may just save your life.

Oral Bacteria

Although it cannot be seen with the naked eye, human beings are home to an entire ecosystem of living organisms. These microscopic hitchhikers live on our skin and in our nose and mouth. Many live bacteria call our mouths home though most of it is completely harmless. Following a Dr. Desbordes’ recommended regular oral hygiene regimen of brushing your teeth at least at least twice a day and daily flossing will usually keep these microorganisms at bay. However, when the right conditions for these bacteria are met, usually when dental hygiene has been neglected, these bacteria in our mouths can cause minor oral health problems such as gum disease (also known as periodontitis) or tooth decay to become major systemic conditions.

Cardiac Problems Linked to Oral Health

Research has established a connection between endocarditis and poor oral health. Endocarditis occurs when bacteria from one part of your body such as from an infected tooth or inflamed gums, reaches the lining of your heart through your bloodstream, compromising the heart muscles. There is also research showing that the risk of clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes increases with exposure to the bacteria from oral health issues. Doctors have also made a connection between poor oral health in expecting mothers and prematurely-born babies.

Oral Health and Overall Health

Conversely, researchers have found that 90% of systemic medical conditions show themselves :in our mouths through symptoms. For example: It has been established that gum disease is frequently diagnosed in patients with uncontrolled diabetes therefore its’ presence can be a sign that a person should be examined by a medical doctor or an endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). Lesions in the mouth can indicate autoimmune diseases such as HIV/AIDS. While losing teeth may be a sign of the onset of osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones and makes them brittle. A decline in oral health is also commonly seen in the elderly with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Prevent Illness with Good Oral Hygiene

So your teeth are watching out for you, but what can you do to look out for them? Dr. Byron Desbordes 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. Hydrating properly is also important to preventing oral health issues as saliva flushes 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 and keeping regular check-ups with your dentist and medical doctors are also recommended. To schedule a cleaning and consultation with Dr. Desbordes in Baltimore MD today call (410) 216-4023 or schedule an appointment online.

Author: Dr. Desbordes