Dental Health Issues – Ask Your Local Dental Hygienist – Vancouver
Oral Health & Overall Health
There have been many studies linking health issues to your oral health. Here is a brief list of some of those health issues and how oral health contributes to the health issue:
Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.
Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Besides the link between tobacco and heart disease, stroke, emphysema and cancer (especially, lung and throat cancers), smoking leads to the following oral health consequences:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
- Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, which is a white or gray patch that develops on the tongue or the inside of the cheek
- Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
- Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment or oral surgery
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
Growing evidence suggests a link between gum disease and premature, underweight births. Pregnant women who have gum disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. More research is needed to confirm how gum disease affects pregnancy outcomes. But it appears that gum disease triggers increased levels of biological fluids that induce labor. Data also suggests that when gum disease worsens during pregnancy, there’s a higher risk of having a premature baby.
During your pregnancy, your teeth and gums need special attention. Regular brushing and flossing, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.
Studies show that many pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis occurs more frequently during pregnancy because the increased level of hormones exaggerates the way gums react to the irritants in plaque. However, it’s still plaque — not hormones — that is the major cause of gingivitis. Keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline, will help dramatically reduce or even prevent gingivitis during your pregnancy.
Be sure to let us know if you’re pregnant when you schedule your appointment. It’s best to schedule your dental visit during the fourth to sixth month of your pregnancy. This is because the first three months of pregnancy are thought to be of greatest importance in your child’s development. During the last trimester, stresses associated with dental visits can increase the incidence of prenatal complications.
Chronic stress can have many significant effects on oral health. Emotional stress is believed to be related to the practice of tooth grinding that can lead to damaged teeth, jaw or facial pain, and headaches. Stress is also associated with an increased susceptibility to infections, including infections of the gum tissue, known as periodontitis. Aphthous ulcers (canker sores), dry mouth, Lichen planus, burning mouth syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders were also identified in a study of oral health conditions that are worsened during times of emotional disturbance.
There is a theory that infections in the mouth cause chronic inflammation throughout the body that may increase a person’s risk of cancer overall, or at specific sites in the body. New research has linked gum disease with a higher risk of cancer, especially cancers of the kidneys, pancreas, and blood.
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” – Mother Teresa