The concept that oral health and systemic health have a direct connection is certainly not novel. For years researchers have been studying the link between the two, and it seems every day we learn something new that further solidifies the relationship. Yet this fundamental symbiosis seems slow to work its way into the larger public perception. So what are the basics of this link between your mouth and the rest of your body?
The bacteria found in your mouth can be seen as a gateway to the rest of your system. When kept in balance by good oral hygiene, and not affected by other disease, this bacterium is usually healthy and doing exactly what it should be. When poor oral hygiene and other factors lead to periodontal disease, bone loss or tooth loss, the opportunities for harmful bacteria to enter your system increase substantially. Periodontal disease is often the first sign of systemic problems, and will always exacerbate existing conditions. Periodontitis has a direct reciprocal link to the following health problems, among others:
Being aware of the problems that can occur due to an imbalance in the oral health-systemic health relationship isn’t enough. It’s also important to note the preventative benefits of recognizing this connection. Diseases will often manifest in the mouth first, and allowing your dentist a vital first look into what may be going on can save you valuable time. Periodic oral examinations can detect early signs of many diseases, including Osteoporosis, oral cancer, eating disorders such as Anorexia, and even HIV.
So what can you do to support the healthy dynamic between oral and general health? No doubt about it, it’s a two way street. Good oral hygiene, including routine brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, are critical. So too are a balanced diet, exercise and routine check-ups with your physician. Above all don’t forget: no part of our body or mouth can afford to be ignored!
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