Oral Health and the Body
Until recently, oral health was considered its own entity, having little influence on the health of the overall body. However, recent studies and the introduction of more advanced dental technology have led to a better understanding of the relationship between the mouth and body. Known as the oral-systemic link, this connection highlights the unique relationship between the health of the mouth and the health of the body, ultimately suggesting that the health of one heavily influences the health of the other. Understanding how these two systems are inter-related is an important part of receiving the effective, successful health care.
The Long-Term Impact of Oral Health
The mouth is often considered the gateway to the rest of the body. Without proper care and regular check-ups, the mouth is susceptible to damage and decay. Not only is the health of the smile compromised if left untreated, the health of the entire body may be compromised as well.
For example, gum disease is an easily prevented condition with the adoption of an effective at-home hygiene routine. However, when the condition progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis, spaces form between the teeth and gums. As bacteria continue to become trapped in these pockets, the spaces grow, providing the opportunity for bacteria to attack the teeth roots and enter the blood stream. Once bacteria enters the blood stream, the untreated condition puts patients at an increased risk of cardiac disease and stroke.
Similarly, untreated tooth infections can also have serious implications for an individual’s overall health. Normally, infected tissue can be removed through root canal therapy or periapical surgery. However, if the condition is ignored, the infection can spread down the root and begin creating an abscess in the bone. In addition to compromising bone density, the bacteria can also spread into the blood stream. In rare circumstances, bacteria can travel to critical organs throughout the body, leading to the onset of serious secondary consequences.
This relationship does not go one direction. Certain dental problems can be indicative of broader health conditions. Just as gum disease can trigger additional health problems, it can also be caused by increased insulin production, a side effect of diabetes. Celiac disease can also have oral health complications, causing canker sores, tonsil stones, and changes in tongue morphology.
Learn More about Oral Systemic Health Today
At the New Orleans dental practice of Dr. Timothy Delcambre, our goal is to provide patients with dental solutions that address the entire body, rather than just the mouth. Through our global approach to dentistry, Dr. Delcambre is able to help patients improve their overall health and achieve lasting dental health and function. To learn more about the oral-systemic connection, contact our New Orleans dentist today.
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