Get Healthy: 5 Critical Health Issues that Start in Your Mouth

Get Healthy: 5 Critical Health Issues that Start in Your Mouth

Oral health is linked to many of the conditions everyone hopes to avoid, so here at North County Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, we’re making a resolution to help all of our patients focus on dental health for overall health in the new year. How can dental health impact your overall wellness? Let’s take a look at five critical health issues that begin in the mouth.

It’s 2023 and many people are entering the year with a renewed focus on improving their overall health. They’re focusing on new eating habits, mindfulness, exercise, better sleep and other methods, but there is something they might be overlooking — their oral health.

1. Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Anyone who has watched their loved one experience the effects of dementia knows that it is a debilitating disease. It is also one that we can take steps to avoid, including a renewed focus on oral health and more specifically, gum disease. A shocking number of individuals — 47% of all Americans — have gum disease right now. That is a rather worrisome fact when you also consider the latest research linking the specific bacteria responsible for gum disease, F. nucleatum, and Alzheimer’s disease. (F. nucleatum will play a recurring role in all of the conditions shared here).

If you have concerns about your own predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease, you can give your mind and body a healthy start by focusing on your gum health. That means regular visits to the general dentist for check-ups and cleanings, daily brushing, and daily flossing. You can also cut back on sugar (which is also linked to Alzheimer’s) to reduce feeding the harmful bacteria that prey on your gums.

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While you might not think that brushing and flossing can impact your chances of heart disease, recent research says otherwise. Bacteria associated with gum disease also have a connection with heart disease. In studies of mice injected with multiple gum disease bacteria, all experienced an increase in heart inflammation and cholesterol.

The good news is that gum disease is preventable and reversible. In fact, if you are already struggling with a heart issue, you actually can support your heart health by reversing the effects of gum disease with your dentist. Cut the flow of harmful bacteria to your heart with regular brushing and flossing, plus twice-yearly cleanings. Ask your dentist for resources about the links between heart disease and gum disease and develop a strategy for prevention.

3. Prematurity and Low Birth Rates

We know that pregnant mothers feel a lot of pressure to do everything right throughout every trimester. Everyone has an opinion to share about foods and activities to avoid, vitamins to take, and plans to be made. With so much on their plate, many women put off going to the dentist throughout their pregnancy. They may also falter in their dental care due to exhaustion, persistent nausea, or just plain old pregnancy-induced forgetfulness. Unfortunately, dental health is another stressor that pregnant women should not ignore because it can impact the health of their unborn baby.

Remember F. nucleatum? It is also linked to premature birth and low birthweight. Researchers have isolated the bacterium in the amniotic fluid of women who experienced preterm labor. For women with preexisting gum disease, that is an immediate concern. At North County Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, we try to help encourage our pregnant patients to view dental care through the lens of self care. It isn’t just to help the baby, but to help mom, too. We take care to support our patients with modified treatments, advice for managing nausea through brushing and flossing and, as with all patients, compassion and kindness.

4. Type 2 Diabetes

Is there a chronic disease or health condition that doesn’t have a link to oral health? As research grows to show the many links between oral health and bodily wellness, the answer seems to be no. Type 2 diabetes is also amongst the list of diseases that can be impacted by gum disease. In this instance, however, the connection begins in the mouth itself. Research has shown that just the inflammation caused by gum disease can raise your glucose levels and increase your risk of contracting diabetes.

Conversely, if you already have type 2 diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing gum disease, as well as dry mouth, and an oral fungal infection called thrush. Once gum disease develops, it becomes even harder to control your body’s blood sugar.

It’s a scary cycle! One of the best ways to prevent inflammation also helps with prevention of diabetes — cutting your sugar intake. Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria that invade your gums. It’s also especially important that you visit a general dentist regularly for cleanings. If you notice symptoms like bleeding gums, dryness, soreness, or white patches in your mouth, don’t wait until your next 6-month cleaning--come in right away to get the treatments and medications to control the problems.

5. Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most-diagnosed form of cancer in the United States and globally. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related death. While only a small percentage of the population will be afflicted with this aggressive, painful disease, the ​​1.9 million new cases diagnosed in 2020 alone is a devastating number.

Studies on the link between colorectal cancer and oral health are minimal, but recent findings theorize that the body’s immune response to gum disease can cause inflammation in the gut and damage your gut health, leading to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

As with all other chronic conditions associated with oral health, focusing on consistent dental care can help reduce risk factors like gum disease and inflammation. Cutting back on sugar, drinking more water, and eating a healthy diet can also support gut health while also protecting your teeth and gums.

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Essentials for Good Oral Health in Vista, CA

Oral Health for Overall Health in 2023

If you’re entering 2023 with a renewed focus on your health, be sure to incorporate a renewed focus on your dental health. It’s not just about having a great smile, it’s about having a great life!

North County Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry can help you establish your goals, treat existing issues and get you on the road to a healthier you.

Call us today at 760-940-2273 to schedule an appointment.

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