The importance of oral health

Regular visits to your dentist can do more than keep your smile attractive - they can tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes.

New industry research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may also have other health problems.

Poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, such as the following:

    Oral and facial pain

    According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infection of the gums that support the teeth, and can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, and advanced gum disease affect more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.

    Problems with the heart and other major organs

    Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.

    Oral cancer

    Poor oral care can contribute to oral cancer. Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. It is now easier than ever to detect oral cancer early, when the opportunity for a cure is great.

    Digestion problems

    Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and digestion disorders can lead to intestinal failure or irritable bowel syndrome.

So see your dentist regularly!

Seeing your dentist regularly helps to keep your mouth in top shape and allows your dentist to watch for developments that may point to other health issues. Provide your dentist with a complete medical/dental history and inform him or her of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.

Information courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry