Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive – they can also tell dentists a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be at risk for chronic disease.
New 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 have other health problems.
Research also shows that good oral health may actually prevent certain diseases from occurring.
Gum disease and health complications
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and health complications such as a stroke and heart disease. Women with gum disease also show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.
Other research shows that more than 90% of all systemic diseases (diseases involving many organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems. Such diseases include:
Since most people have regular oral examinations, their dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages. Poor oral health can lead to problems.
If you don't take care of your teeth and gums, your poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, including:
What you can do:
Seeing a 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. A dental exam can also detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Provide your dentist with a complete medical history and inform him or her of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.
At home, you can practice good oral hygiene: