What goes on inside your mouth can impact your overall health
For many people, it isn’t easy to think of our body as one connected machine. It is easier to think of ourselves as separate working parts that make up a whole. This is how we have been taught as young children, and it is how the medical community deals with health issues. If you go to your doctor with a specific health concern, the symptoms are treated, and you are sent on your way. Very seldom do doctors utilize a whole-health approach and look at the entire body to find connections between illness and the symptoms being experienced. Unfortunately, this is causing people all over the world to suffer needlessly.
Let’s take a drive
I’d like you to take a moment and imagine your dream car. Picture it racing down country roads, its high-gloss paint-job glistening in the sun. If this car were yours, you’d take excellent care of it. You would top it up with premium oil, use the highest quality gasoline, and take it to the dealership for regular maintenance. You would wash the outside regularly, vacuum the inside, and make sure the tires were always at the correct pressure.
You would do all of this because if you didn’t, your beautiful car wouldn’t be beautiful anymore. It goes without saying that if you put sugar in the gas tank, the car would no longer run. If a tire went flat, the car couldn’t drive. And, if you didn’t keep the body of the car clean, it would rust and slowly fall apart.
We seem to understand that taking care of one aspect of our dream car affects how the whole thing will run, and yet we still haven’t made that same connection with our bodies.
The health of our mouths
As with our fancy sports car, if something goes wrong in one area of our body, it will have a ripple effect on our health as a whole. Many people don’t realize that an issue in our mouths can have detrimental effects on various systems within our bodies.
If our teeth aren’t cared for properly, we can develop infections and gum disease. If not treated promptly, these infections can travel throughout our bodies and cause a wide range of different conditions. There is a direct link between heart disease, certain types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, prenatal complications, and our oral health. The health of our mouths directly affects the health of the rest of our bodies.
Where’s the pain?
Unfortunately, many people think their mouth is in great shape and end up neglecting it. Far too often, the only reason people visit their dentist is when they are in excruciating pain. At this point, it is usually too late.
In fact, most dental abscesses, diseases, and infections don’t cause any pain at all. Someone can have an infection fester in their mouth for months or even years without feeling even the slightest amount of pain. That infection runs rampant throughout their entire body during this time, wreaking havoc on their health.
Take Susan, for example. She was a young, healthy woman without any previous health concerns until a routine visit to her family physician. Her blood pressure was slightly elevated, and her doctor advised her to take a prescription blood-pressure medication. A short while later, she visited her dentist for a checkup, where they found a large abscess in her mouth.
Susan had no idea her mouth was infected and had zero pain. Yet, her body was under a great deal of stress, working overtime to fight this infection. It was later determined that the cause of her high blood pressure was the abscess in her mouth. Once it was treated, she was able to stop taking her medication.
Joan is another excellent example. She went to her physician to receive treatment for a large abscess on her leg. Her doctor gave her antibiotics, but the infection returned a short while later. This happened multiple times.
Finally, her doctor ordered a culture test to be done on the abscess, and scientists found that the bacteria responsible for her infection were oral bacteria. It turns out she had an unknown infection in her mouth that had spread to her leg.
Connecting the dots
When it comes to our well-being, it’s crucial to remember that we are connected. From the top of our heads to the tips of our toes, we are one body, and what happens in one area can have an effect on another. The health of our mouths can directly impact the health of the rest of our bodies, and therefore it is vital that we practice good oral hygiene.
We need to follow up with our dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, even if we aren’t in any pain. Our dentist will be able to check for painless abscesses and ensure our mouths are as healthy as possible.
We also need to practice good oral care at home by brushing and flossing our teeth thoroughly. This process should be done at least once per day and should take about 10 minutes from start to finish. This may seem like a long time, but how long would you spend waxing and polishing your new car? Your body is much more critical and will last a lot longer than any fancy vehicle.
When it comes to our health, we need to start thinking about the connections within our bodies and realize that what affects our mouth affects our whole health. Our goal at the Dental Medical Convergence is to help both patients and doctors connect the dots when it comes to oral health to enhance our wellness and increase our longevity. The time has come to finally make the connection.