Time and again, we have been told to schedule regular check-ups at the dentist in order to keep a check on our oral health. But are you aware of why it is so important to make sure that our oral health is in good condition? Dentists help keep our mouth, teeth and gums healthy at all times to do away with oral issues. A dental appointment comprises of two processes: a clean-up and check-up. Dentists check for plaque, tartar, and cavities that can turn into oral infections and inflammations without proper care. They clean up the mess that we may be able to avoid if we meticulously follow a good oral hygiene routine – brushing twice a day, flossing and even using mouthwash.
It’s important to know that beyond preventing oral diseases, the dentist also helps keep a check on our general health – not solely our oral health. Oral health is both an indicator of bad overall health as well as a gateway for other diseases that can be detrimental to our overall well-being.
Oral health as an indicator of bad overall health
Part of the dentist’s role is to identify the cause for the oral issues faced by the patient. While breaking it down to find the root cause, they may be able to identify certain diseases and conditions that the patient may be developing or has already developed. Common diseases that cause oral complications include:
- Alzheimer’s: As the symptoms of the disease worsen, oral health also deteriorates
- Diabetes: Your dentist may ask if you are diabetic. This is because gum disease occurs more frequently in those who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Your gums are more prone to infections since diabetes weakens your immunity
- HIV/Aids: HIV positive patients often face oral complications like lesions and ulcers
Oral health as a contributor to diseases and conditions
The mouth is a gateway for infections to the rest of the body. The food we eat and the air we breathe may contain germs and bacteria that travel through the mouth to infect our bodies. Apart from checking our teeth, mouth, and gums, the dentist also carefully examines our tongue, throat, face, head, and neck to check for early warning signs of an infection or a disease. Bad oral hygiene can also cause bacteria to travel through the infected gums to the rest of the body. Diseases and conditions that bad oral health can attract include:
- Endocarditis: Bacteria or germs can travel from the mouth through the bloodstream and attach themselves to areas of the heart causing an infection
- Cardiovascular disease: Oral bacteria can result in inflammations and infections that clog the arteries and cause heart diseases.
- Birth complications: Premature birth and low birth weight have been linked to periodontitis, a severe gum infection.
- Respiratory disease: Bacteria from the mouth can be pulled in to infect the lungs causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases
- Diabetes: Oral complications are bound to pop-up when blood sugar levels are not kept in check. Yes, diabetes is a contributor to bad oral health and vice versa. They work in partnership.
…but let’s not endorse that deal.
Oral complications don’t just mean loss of teeth or bleeding gums. Gum diseases like gingivitis can trigger some serious health issues. It’s important to get a dental check-up done every 6 months to clean up those teeth and gums that have been collecting plaque, tartar and other mess. Don’t forget to maintain good oral hygiene between your visits.