What can oral health tell us about our bodies, and our life?
Have you ever heard the expression, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” If not, that’s okay. It means you shouldn’t second guess or scrutinize a gift you receive. But where did this old proverb come from, and why on earth would someone look inside a horse’s mouth? As it turns out, the answer to those questions may reveal something important about oral health, not just in horses, but in humans too.
The oral health of an animal may provide important clues to its overall health, so it makes perfect sense that someone would check out a horse’s mouth before buying or accepting it. I suppose the modern day equivalent would be looking underneath the hood of a car before signing on the dotted line – one look won’t tell you everything, but it will certainly give you some insight. So what can we find out by looking into our own mouths?
The implications of oral health on overall health are as true for humans as they are for horses. Although research is relatively new in this area, more and more connections are being made, and some of them are quite alarming. According to the New Jersey Society of Periodontists, “Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.” They go on to explain how the same bacteria that causes inflammation in gums could be a contributor in clot formation within blood vessels.
The connections between overall physical health and oral health are too many to discuss in depth, but they include links between gum disease and stroke, oral infections and diabetes, early tooth-loss and dementia, and several other connections. One study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that pregnant women with periodontal disease are 25% less likely to have pre-term births if they use mouth wash twice a day, and a study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology found that gum disease may increase the time it takes for women to become pregnant. Periodontal disease is also associated with the harmful effects of tobacco on the rest of the body, and may be linked to pneumonia, pulmonary disease, and acute bronchitis, according to the Journal of Periodontology.
Not only can oral health impact the rest of your body, but it can also impact your mental well-being and appearance. How happy is someone with a toothache? Probably not as happy as they will be after they get it taken care of, right? I’m sure most of us can recall a time or two that someone’s poor oral health, maybe even our own, was a turn off to other people. As superficial as it may sound, oral health can have a big impact on the way others react to us.
Our mouths are necessary for survival. Eating, speaking, and even kissing depend on our mouths being in good order. There are many things we can and should do to maintain our oral health, and by extension, our overall health. Part of it is simply taking an interest in our own health, and the rest is acting on that interest. Flossing and brushing your teeth several times a day are no-brainers, but I’m sure we’d be surprised at how many people don’t take the time to do those simple things. Going to the dentist for regular check-ups and getting treatment for problems as they arise are also vital to our overall health. A cavity might not be affecting you now, but if it requires a root canal down the road, you’ll be wishing you had done something about it sooner. If you are interested in your health, give the Center of Dental Professionals a call. We can help you promote your overall health by promoting your oral health, and that can make a huge difference.