Until just recently, the medical field was not recognizing the oral cavity as a part of the human body. When you had your check ups growing up, the doctor would ask you to “open wide” and look at your throat, bypassing the mouth. Now it has become clear that the mouth is a very important part of your body.
It is here that we, as dental professionals, can see a lot of what is happening in your body. Many diseases have oral manifestations, and many diseases can be affected by how well you take care of your teeth. Take for example periodontal disease. This is a disease characterized by inflammation of the gums and bones resulting in bone and gum loss and possibly loss of teeth. This disease can also affect your overall health. Suppose that a woman is pregnant and has periodontal disease, she is more likely to have a baby with a lower birth weight and a premature birth. Periodontal disease can also affect the brain. In a statistical review people with severe periodontal disease were three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also found that some people who have had strokes have higher levels of a certain bacteria in their saliva, demonstrating a link between your oral hygiene and the risk of strokes. And there is a connection between your oral cavity and your heart. An infection called endocarditis, (an infection in the inner lining of your heart) is caused by germs invading the bloodstream. The National Institutes of Health warns “poor dental hygiene and unhealthy teeth and gums increase your risk for the infection.” Your oral cavity is a very important part of your body and if you take care of it properly and get regular dental checks up you may be able to brush you health risks away.