Shocking Clues Your Teeth Reveal About Your Health
Taking care of your teeth isn’t just about having fresh breath and an attractive smile. Recent studies are finding that the condition of your mouth is closely linked to your total body wellness. Here are four reasons why your dentist may be the first health care professional to detect serious health problems, such as long-term stress, poorly controlled diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy complications.
1. Heart conditions
Studies have shown that people with gum disease are more likely to suffer from heart problems than those with healthy gums. This can occur when bacteria in the mouth enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation in other parts of the body. The inflammatory response can trigger clot formation and thickening of the arteries, which increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes. If you have a history of heart problems, it is important to practice proper oral hygiene at home and to visit your dentist for routine examinations.
If you have diabetes, you have a much higher risk of developing gum disease than someone without diabetes — more than twice as likely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral infections are also more severe in diabetic patients because the condition affects the body’s healing process and lowers resistance to infection. Conversely, having gum disease makes it very difficult for someone with diabetes to control his or her blood sugar levels. Proper brushing and flossing, routine checkups with your dentist and managing blood glucose levels are the best ways to ward off oral health issues causes by diabetes.
3. Chronic stress
A peek inside of your mouth by your dentist may indicate that you’re stressed. That’s because worn down teeth caused by grinding or clenching in your sleep, also known as bruxism, is a common condition diagnosed and treated by dentists. Many people aren’t aware of the impact of their grinding until they visit their dentist for a routine checkup. Wearing a mouth guard at night will protect your teeth and prevent further damage and discomfort by alleviating the tension on the teeth and jaw.
4. Pregnancy complications
Failing to properly care for teeth and gums during pregnancy can also have serious consequences for an expectant mother and her baby. As a woman’s hormones fluctuate during pregnancy, her risk of developing gum disease increases, which can result in preterm, low-birth-weight babies. If you are pregnant and notice changes in your gum tissues, including inflammation, bleeding or tenderness, talk to your dentist right away. Women can reduce their risk of pregnancy complications caused by gum disease by addressing oral health issues before becoming pregnant. Bottom line: Good oral health plays a critical role in your overall health, and visiting your dentist may unveil important clues about your general well being. Combined with proper oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, you can maintain your optimal oral health and avoid a range of serious health problems.