The brightest smiles can be found in cities like Salt Lake City all the way to Greenville and many other places in the U.S. and the world, thanks to the improving oral health of people in the past years. The most obvious benefit of good dental care is improved self-confidence, but the bigger takeaway isn't immediately apparent. As dentists and oral surgeons in Salt Lake City would tell you, a healthy mouth is a great indicator of good overall health.
Timely upkeep of your chompers can treat problems early and prevent life-threatening diseases from happening. Learn how and why your mouth can tell you so much about your health.
Your Mouth is Like a Health Gauge
Your oral health can predict or indicate a serious medical condition before you develop more obvious symptoms. Digestion problems are mostly linked to the mouth. Gastrointestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn's disease, manifest oral lesions and swelling of lips, gums, and oral tissues. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD can tear away the enamel of your teeth, and frequent use of antacids can cause black hairy tongue.
Plaque buildup, persistent bad breath, and bleeding gums can be early indicators of diabetes. Women are more likely to experience a sore or painful jaw before experiencing a heart attack than men are. A number of other diseases will also have strong negative effects on your mouth. These conditions include sclerosis, leukemia, thyroid disease, and both systemic and discoid lupus erythematosus.
What Can Start in the Mouth Can End in the Heart
The most apparent diseases you can contract with poor oral health are gingivitis and periodontitis or gum disease. What most people don't know is that periodontitis can lead to some severe medical conditions.
Advanced gum disease put patients at risk of endocarditis. This occurs when bacteria or other germs in your body enter, attach to and damage your heart valves. Bacteria from periodontitis can enter your bloodstream, and then your heart, through any of the cuts in your mouth.
Another extreme medical condition that can result from serious gum disease is preterm birth. Periodontitis was linked to preterm birth, low birth weight, or both in 24 studies involving approximately 15,000 mothers. Doctors recommend better screening for pregnant women to reduce dental risks to both the mother and the child.
There's no exaggeration when your dentists say you should brush your teeth often. Be sure to pay attention to every part of your mouth, including all sides of your teeth, and use a soft-bristled toothbrush or gentle pressure to avoid damage to your gums. Fraying or irregular bristles on your brush mean it's time to replace it; otherwise, it's a good practice to change your toothbrush every three or four months.
Finally, if you can afford it, have a good dental plan, or if there are clinics near you, don't forget to see your dentist. Depending on your oral health, your dentists can schedule your visits every three months or two years.