How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

Even though the field of dentistry focuses exclusively on oral health, it can affect your body’s overall health too.

Our body is a massive ecosystem; when one area lacks balance, it will negatively affect the rest of the environment. Oral conditions, diseases, and pain can be disruptive and have a considerable impact on the individual and at the societal level in terms of reduction in everyday activities.[1] Many studies have shown poor oral health to be linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more. Poor oral health contributes to systemic inflammatory burdens. As gum disease shares many common risk factors with noncommunicable diseases, close collaboration between physicians and dentists is needed to increase the chance of early detection and improve the prevention and control of these conditions.[2] 

Thankfully, with the team at Old Town Smiles, you can take great care of your oral health and prevent other potential health issues.

This goes without saying, but it is essential that you maintain proper oral health. There are too many horror stories out there of people living to regret not taking better care of their teeth as they get older. It will happen to you if you don’t take the necessary preventative measures

Dentist Alexandria, VA

Keep reading to learn more about how dental health affects your overall health and the beneficial treatments we offer at Old Town Smiles. Schedule your next consultation at your convenience, or call us at (703) 836-7000.

Located in picturesque Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, Old Town Smiles was designed with our patient’s comfort and care as our top priority. We look forward to getting to know you as we guide you through your dental expedition.

To get a better sense of what we’re all about, check out our social media. You can find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Before and After Photos

How Does Dental Health Affect Overall Health?

Your mouth is filled with mostly harmless bacteria, like most of your body. But the mouth is also the gateway to the digestive and respiratory tracts, and some bacteria can have negative outcomes such as infections or diseases.

Usually, the body’s immune system and good oral health can keep the bacteria at bay. But without proper oral care, the bacteria can reach levels that can lead to unpleasant consequences such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Conditions Linked to Oral Health

Oral health can contribute to certain conditions, including:

  • Pneumonia
    • Certain bacterias can be brought into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory complications.
  • Cardiovascular disease
    • Research has indicated that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke could be linked to the inflammation and infections that bacteria in the mouth can cause.
  • Endocarditis 
    • Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves (endocardium), usually happens when bacteria or other germs spread through the bloodstream and attach to certain areas in the heart.
  • Pregnancy & Birth Complications
    • Periodontitis, a severe gum infection, has been associated with premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Dementia
    • Poor oral hygiene can even affect the brain. The substances released from the gums that are inflamed by infection can kill brain cells and lead to memory loss. Dementia and even Alzheimer’s can result from gingivitis when the oral bacteria spread to the nerves or bloodstream.
  • Cancer
    • Unhealthy habits like smoking and using tobacco products can lead to oral and throat cancers, but other cancers have also been linked to gum disease. Kidney, pancreatic, and blood cancer risks are higher for people who maintain poor oral health.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Gum disease is four times more likely to cause Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronic inflammation of the joints caused by the immune system. Both diseases have inflammation at their root. The oral bacteria from gingivitis can increase inflammation all through the body.

Types of Oral Complications

Gum Disease

Also known as gingivitis or periodontitis, gum disease is the inflammation of the gums. Symptoms consist of swollen red gums, bad breath, a constant bad taste, gum recession, pain, and bleeding from either brushing or flossing. At its worst, it can advance into bone deterioration and tooth loss. 

Types of Gum Disease

  • Chronic Gingivitis
    • Characterized by bright red puffy gums that bleed easily
  • Aggressive Periodontitis
    • It is associated with the loss of one of the alveolar bones, the thick edge of bone on the jaw that forms the tooth sockets.
  • Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis
    • affects the whole mouth with large accumulations of plaque and tartar, loose teeth, and inflamed gums

How You Can Take Preventative Measures

The most effective way to prevent serious health issues caused by poor oral health is to practice good oral hygiene and schedule regular dental appointments.

To maintain ideal oral hygiene, one must:

  • Brush your teeth & gums twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Avoid smoking and other tobacco products
  • Use fluoride toothpaste & mouthwash
  • Reduce sugary food and drink intake
  • Follow a diet of well-balanced meals

Healthy teeth are clean and free of pain. Healthy gums are pink and don’t bleed when they are brushed or flossed.

Preventative Dental Procedures

Professional Teeth Cleaning

A professional tooth cleaning involves a thorough examination of your teeth and gums while removing built-up plaque and tartar. These are bad for the health of your teeth and promote cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. 

Dry Mouth Therapy

Dry mouth therapy restores hydration and sensation in the mouth for patients suffering from dry mouth as a result of genetics, medicine, or certain medical treatments. Decreased saliva levels can cause odor, pain and can form rampant decay if left untreated.

Oral Cancer Screening

An oral cancer screening is a thorough examination of the mouth. One of our highly qualified dentists will examine your mouth, looking for cancer and other precancerous signs and conditions. 

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatment is a procedure that helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque, bacteria, and sugars in the mouth. It can reverse early tooth decay.

Benefits of Preventative Dental Care

  • Saves you money in the long run
    • Waiting until a problem grows to unmanageable proportions is a great way to put a dent in your wallet. Much like owning a car, proper maintenance will extend your life and save you money over time.
  • Identify potential life-threatening diseases
    • Poor oral hygiene and health can lead to conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Preventive dental checkups can also help to identify conditions like oral cancer. 
  • Lowers the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious conditions

Personal Consultation

Dentist Alexandria, VA

During your consultation, we will diagnose your unique dental needs and discuss how to fulfill them. We will examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer and any abnormalities like decay, missing teeth, jaw dysfunction, and any defective fillings. Usually, the visit includes a full set of x-rays, routine cleaning and polishing, oral hygiene instructions, oral cancer screening, periodontal diagnosis, and a full treatment plan. For patients who have had regular visits to the dentist, a routine cleaning will likely be performed during this visit. If any signs of gum disease are present, more treatment may be recommended. 

After gathering data about your oral health, we’ll share our findings and photos with you in the consultation room. Your dentist will present treatment options and may show you videos of procedures so that you fully understand your options. 

COVID-19

As we reach the end of the pandemic of this current iteration of the coronavirus, we must take note of how this deadly disease impacts your dental health. Since the beginning of the outbreak, many people have been putting off dental appointments and, in general, failing to adequately clean and treat their teeth. This, in turn, can affect your overall health and leave you nearly nine times more likely to die from the virus as well as 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 4.5 times more likely to require a ventilator. There have been multiple studies linking gum disease to COVID-19 complications.

We urge you to be safe, get tested, get vaccinated, then schedule your next dental appointment with us right away.  

Cost

Dentist Alexandria, VA

Payment for services is due at the time services are rendered. We accept cash, personal checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. We also offer CareCredit and Lending Club, a patient payment program offering a full range of no interest and extended payment plans. We offer a 5% discount if service is paid in full by cash or check for treatments over $1000. 

Oral health can be a great indicator of overall health. Taking care to prevent oral complications can go a long way toward decreasing the risk for more serious health problems through the body.

If you’ve liked what you’ve read, come check out the rest of the Old Town Smiles Blog, where you’ll find great content about treatment options, policy updates, opinion pieces, FAQs, and much more

Check out our specials page for any deals that would benefit you. 

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We hope to see you soon.

FAQ

How does oral health affect your overall health?

Oral health affects your overall health because the mouth is a doorway to the digestive and respiratory tracts, and if certain bacterias enter those tracts, that bacteria can have adverse outcomes such as infections or diseases.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can cause damage to and destroy the gums and jawbone.

References

  1. Gift, H. C., Ph.D., & Redford, M., DDS, MPH. (1992). Oral Health and The Quality Of Life. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 8(3), 673-684. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-0690(18)30471-3
  2. Dörfer, C., Benz, C., Aida, J., & Campard, G. (2017). The relationship of oral health with general health and NCDs: A brief review. International Dental Journal, 67(S2), 114-18. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/idj.12360
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