Though many are aware there are a number of factors contributing to overall health and wellness, it’s less widely known that what goes on in your mouth also has a major impact on the health of the rest of your body.
“Integrated wellness is about viewing the body as one unit, not a bunch of separate systems working independently,” said Dr. Gary Vance, D.D.S., dental director of Specialty Products at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
In the past, dentistry was sometimes thought of as a “drill, fill and bill” process, Vance explained. Nobody seemed to acknowledge that the head was connected to the rest of the body. But that perception has changed. “We now know that how you care for both your mind and your mouth affects the health of your whole body,” he said.
So before you postpone your next dental cleaning, consider this:
- Inflammation and the bacteria associated with periodontal disease is similar to that found in patients with diabetes, and can affect diabetes and glycemic control. The reverse is also true — uncontrolled diabetes can have a negative effect on periodontal disease. Unfortunately, this currently affects 21 million Americans.
- One in three Americans have heart issues related to oral health. Not only is inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease similar to that found in patients with diabetes, but it’s also mirrored in patients with cardiovascular disease. In fact, the plaque associated with periodontal disease closely resembles the plaque found in the vessels of the heart.
- Periodontal disease may also have a negative effect on early birth rates and premature development. When a woman becomes pregnant, her hormones fluctuate, and the possibility of gum disease increases. Oral health plays a role in about 12 percent of all premature births.
These are just a few of the negative effects associated with poor dental health. Make regular dental exams and cleanings a priority to reduce the risk of preventable health complications.
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Photo Credit: wonderferret