It can happen on any typical day. My kids are once again struggling to maintain their composure as they impatiently stare at the spinning Netflix circle, eagerly waiting for the ever so frustrating buffer cycle of their anticipated show. Amongst their complaints, I find myself reminding them of times long ago when cartoons were only shown on Saturday mornings, on an immobile TV set, that required manual changing of the channels. Without sounding too archaic, I still take the time to remind them of things not to take for granted.
In this medical issue, I would like to take the time to point out the importance of not taking your dental health for granted in your overall health. We often think our teeth stand alone from other health concerns, but more and more evidence of an oral health and systemic health connection is coming to light. It may not seem obvious, at first, but an astute physiological understanding of our teeth will reveal that they are living organs comprised of blood circulation, nerve innervation, remineralization capabilities, and inflammatory and immune responses. In addition, the supporting periodontal structures integrate with oral and facial tissues that connect the circulatory system with other organs of the body. A failure in these structures can put other systems at risk of infection or malfunction.
A few brief examples of this connection included diabetes, in which patients are more likely to have gum disease from a reduced resistance to infection. Pregnancy hormones can also affect overall gum health. Patients with moderate to advanced gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease and increased risk of stroke. Dental infections can put a patient at risk of life threatening-conditions like obstructed airways or meningitis.
Moreover, certain disorders can also be diagnosed through a dental examination such as oral cancer or cancers of the head and neck. Generalized tooth pain can indicate a sinus condition. Bad breath may be an indication of kidney disease or acid reflux disorders.
It is important never to disregard dental health when taking care of your overall health. Your teeth are a part of you, and you want them to last your lifetime. Happy smiling!