Is your mouth really a reflection of your overall health? Riverwalk Dental cares about their patients’ total well-being

Image by NIAID of FlickrMany of Riverwalk Dental’s patients are aware that a simple saliva swab test can tell a lot about our DNA and today, even our ancestry.  We also recognize that annual checkups prevent tooth decay and the sometimes painful affects caused when our teeth are neglected over a period of time.  But what about our overall health, and how important is that to a healthy and well maintained smile?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), “[T]he mouth is the center of vital tissues and functions that are critical to total health and well-being across the life span.”  Yet the report also states that overall, people perceive oral health as less important than other factors that reflect their general health.  This often leads to people postponing care and maintenance of their oral health, causing greater harm and expense over time than necessary.

Consider the fact that one’s mouth is truly the most important gateway into one’s body.  According to Dr.  Kara Fitzgerald, ND of The Sandy Hook Clinic, the microbes in the mouth are a significant contributor to digestive microbiome (the totality of microorganisms and their total genetic material present in our bodies) and every individual is swallowing upwards of one-trillion bacteria in a single day!

Oral disease and disorders do affect one’s overall health throughout our lives.  Oral hygiene and dental checkups are key to ones overall health and well-being.  Occasionally, patients that visit our office in Lawrence Massachusetts will discuss with our staff not just the issues they are experiencing in regard to their teeth and oral care, but also other medical issues they are undergoing.  It can be a surprise for them to learn how the care of their teeth and mouth can be a factor in the health challenges they are facing overall.

According to the NIDCR’s Surgeon General report on Oral Health in America, there is strong evidence linking issues affecting oral care and infectious disease such as periodontitis  to increased  risk  for  cardiovascular,  cerebrovascular, and lung disease, as well as  exacerbation of diabetes, and early indications of osteoporosis.

Sound impossible?  Consider the fact that so much of what enters one’s body comes from one’s mouth.  Bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens (disease-producing agents) often originate from our mouths and enter our bodies every day.  In an article written in Harvard Magazine out of Cambridge Massachusetts, chronic stomach and intestinal problems may begin with what is in everyone’s mouth. In a study published in Science Daily Magazine, an international team of researchers reported on strains of oral bacteria, when swallowed in average quantities a day, can lodge in the gut and even trigger inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The message we wish to communicate to our patients is; keep up on your visits to our office and continue to maintain a healthy smile!  Not only will you feel and look great, you will also be doing the right thing for your overall health and well-being.

The doctors at Riverwalk Dental understand the importance of oral health and its affect on everyone who visits our office.  We hope this article will help our patients understand the importance of consistent and continued care of their oral health to live a long and healthy life.