Mouth-Body Connection

Mouth-Body Connection

Mouth-Body Connection
Oral hygiene is directly connected to overall health, both reflecting and affecting it. Poor oral hygiene can lead to caries, halitosis, abscess and heart disease, and bacteria in your mouth can travel to the rest of your body and cause serious complications.

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    Researchers don't know exactly how the hormones estrogen and progesterone affect gums. Although this relationship is not well understood, researchers have documented changes in gum sensitivity, inflammation, and a higher risk of periodontal disease during hormonal changes in a woman's life. These include puberty, menstruation, the use of birth control pills, pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and trying to find the optimal dose of estrogen replacement. Good oral health care practices, routine dentist visits, and a good diet can help prevent any increased risk of periodontal disease from hormonal fluctuations. Some research suggests that estrogen supplements might slow the progression of periodontal disease.
     
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    It’s important to let your dentist know about all the medications that you take. That’s because certain medications can influence dental treatment decisions. This includes oral health. Your dentist can discuss your oral health care needs and will factor this into his/her recommendations on any treatments or procedures. You should also discuss the medication with your physician or other healthcare provider.
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    Yes, some oral health problems can lead to life-threatening conditions. For instance, mouth and throat cancer can be life-threatening and can cause serious problems. This is why oral health matters. While everyone loves having a nice smile, it's important to see a dentist regularly so they can examine your mouth, not only for cavities, but for other health conditions as well.
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    Depression can lead to poor self-care, Women with depression are less likely to care for their oral health. Women with symptoms of depression should seek treatment from a qualified medical professional.

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    Vegetarians are at risk of not getting enough vitamin D or calcium, which might increase the risk of decay and periodontal disease. Vegetarians may have low calcium levels if they consume a lot of plant products that have phytic and oxalic acid, which can interfere with calcium absorption in the body. Although many vegetarian diets are nutritious, each person's diet patterns may be different. Talk to your doctor, dentist, or dietitian if you are concerned about your nutrient intake.

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    A tongue stud is a type of oral piercing. It’s very possible to puncture a nerve during a tongue piercing. If this happens, you may experience a numb tongue or nerve damage that is sometimes temporary, but can be permanent. The injured nerve may affect your sense of taste, or how you move your mouth, and in some cases, damage to the tongue’s blood vessels can cause serious blood loss.

    An oral piercing can also interfere with speech, chewing or swallowing. It may also cause infection, pain and swelling; chipped or cracked teeth; injuries to the gums; damage to fillings and many other dental problems. Oral piercings can also carry the potential risk of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves or tissues. In addition, piercing jewelry can sometimes cause allergic responses to the pierced site. The jewelry can even get in the way of dental care by blocking x-rays.  

    Think seriously before deciding to pierce anything in or on your mouth and talk to your dentist for more information.
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    Dentists are helpful in recognizing brittle bones and osteoporosis in women because they see patients more frequently than doctors. Dental X-rays can be helpful in detecting osteoporosis. Dentists know what to look for, so they are in a good position to help find osteoporosis that may have gone undetected. Dentists are concerned about a number of problems that might accompany osteoporosis, such as loose teeth, detached or receding gums, and dentures that do not fit. These can be signs of lower bone density, which could lead to tooth loss or periodontal disease.

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    We frequently try to educate the dentists to look for the wearing away of enamel in patients that are purging. The stomach acid that is brought up and over the teeth can destroy the enamel fairly quickly. Many of my patients have several cavities, need crowns and I had one 19 yr. old woman who had to have dentures. Since the immune system is compromised in anorexic patients, we see an increase in fungal and bacterial problems in the mouth. I also worry if my patients are drinking alcohol in addition to purging because the combination of alcohol and stomach acid can cause the fragile blood vessels in the esophagus to rupture. It is like trying to put back together a wet tissue and I have never seen anyone survive two bleeds.

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    The connection between oral health and overall health underscores the importance of thorough brushing and flossing of teeth as well as making regular visits to the dentist, David Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., professor and associate dean of research at the UCLA School of Dentistry, says. But beyond that, since adults tend to visit a dentist’s office more frequently than a physician’s office, there is a movement to expand the role of the dentist to include routine blood pressure measurements to detect cardiovascular abnormalities, as well as glucose monitoring for individuals at risk for diabetes. “One-fourth of people with diabetes are not diagnosed, and there are more than 20 million people who are prediabetic,” Dr. Wong notes. “Dentists can be a major contributor as a partner with the medical community in conducting screenings and evaluations for diabetes and a number of other life-threatening diseases.”
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    Your teeth, in addition to helping with a wide range of tasks and with chewing, are also a very clear marker of your health. If your gums are inflamed, your teeth are falling out, or your teeth are getting ground like fresh pepper from wear and tear, then those problems can affect and reflect the health and wellbeing of your entire body.

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