The Mouth-Body Connection: How Can Your Teeth Affect Your Health?
The mouth-body connection refers to the impact that your oral health can have on your overall health. In many ways the mouth is the gateway to the body. It is vital for daily nutrition and life support, communication both verbally and emotionally, and enhances our appearance and attractiveness. Veterinarians know that the mouth reflects the overall health of the animal. It is no different for us humanoids–the health of our mouths is directly related to our general health and well-being. Today, if you do a google search of “oral-systemic connections” you will find more than 1.2 million hits. Every month more research is being published linking additional diseases to conditions in our mouths.
Periodontal disease is now unquestionably linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor pregnancy outcomes, strokes, respiratory diseases, and some types of cancer. Because oral bacteria have been identified in the plaque build-ups in arteries we know there is no barrier to organisms traveling from diseased gums to just about anywhere in the body. There are more than 500 different microorganisms found in our mouths. The majority of these are useful but some, especially the anaerobic bacteria that live in the deep crevices of the gums where little air exists, can be very harmful when penetrating the gum tissue and entering the bloodstream. Therefore, that little bit of bleeding that you notice when brushing your teeth, and that smelly breath in the morning, can be a sign that you are under attack by those harmful bacteria.
The common cold is perceived as the most prevalent disease we deal with. But since colds go away in a short time probably only 1% of the population has a cold at a given time. Excluding those under 20 years of age, probably 50% of the population has gum disease at any given time. Insurance data indicates that only 5% of those with the disease are getting treatment. It is estimated that that 70% of the U.S. population will develop gum disease at some time during their lifetime. Once it starts it seldom reverses itself without specialized care.