Why Oral Health Is a Window to Overall Health

Most people are familiar with the adage, “the eyes are the windows to the soul,” which, in essence, means that looking into someone’s eyes can reveal a lot about their emotions, attitude, and thoughts. But what if it was possible to gain even more valuable information by looking into someone’s mouth? Well, it is entirely possible, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), not to mention countless dentists all across the country. Poor oral health can lead to a higher risk of developing a host of physical health problems, and all too often, changes in the oral cavity are the first signs of trouble.

Oral Health and Physical Health: What Your Mouth Might Be Trying to Tell You

Poor oral hygiene can affect your physical health by contributing to the development of periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease.  Along with contributing to bad breath and even tooth loss, periodontal disease can cause the following physical health problems the longer it goes untreated:

  • Endocarditis
  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia

Along with cardiovascular and respiratory issues, multiple studies show that periodontal disease can also increase the risk of premature births and low birth weight in pregnant women. There are four stages of periodontal disease, and the further along the disease progresses, the more likely it is that the following physical health problems are to follow.

  • Gingivitis
  • Mild periodontal disease
  • Moderate periodontal disease
  • Advanced periodontal disease

Chronic Health Problems That Might Show Up in the Oral Cavity

Generally speaking, a dentist will discover a chronic health problem long before a medical doctor does. And this is because of the tell-tale signs of disease that can show up in the oral cavity during a routine dental visit. In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that individuals with diabetes tend to have a lot of glucose mixed in with their saliva. As a byproduct of that, they usually also have a lot of plaque, cavities, and clear signs of tooth decay. Along with diabetes, the following are some of the other chronic diseases that a dentist might pick up on when examining a patient’s oral cavity:

HIV and AIDS – Studies show that individuals with these chronic diseases will usually always have painful mucosal lesions on their lips, tongue, cheeks, palate, throat, and tonsils.

Alzheimer’s disease – According to most neurologists and epidemiologists, exceedingly poor oral health is one of the many hallmarks of advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

Bottom Line

In summary, the state of your oral health can point to and explain a lot of what might be happening with your physical health, which is all the more reason to schedule regular checkups with a licensed dentist.

This article was originally published on MartinUrbanDDS.net

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