Why do we visit the dentist? Most people would answer that question with something along the lines of: “To keep our teeth and gums healthy.” But did you know that keeping your teeth and gums healthy is only part of the picture? What if we were to tell you that you visit the dentist to keep your entire body healthy?
Studies are showing a direct link between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. This link is called the oral-systemic connection, and it’s the reason why dental appointments are about far more than just keeping your teeth white and free from cavities.
The oral surgeons at Southwest Oral Surgery, located in Glendale, Arizona are dedicated to increasing patient awareness… and educating patients about their oral health and how they can best care for themselves at home and through appointments with their dental healthcare team.
Several studies have been published in the Journal of the American Dental Association and the Journal of Clinical Periodontology that link periodontal disease to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
A recent study linked the bacteria that are present in periodontal disease to a nearly doubled risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Other studies have linked periodontal disease with a higher risk of complications during pregnancy, including pre-term birth.
It’s important to recognize that these studies are not saying that periodontal disease causes these other diseases and conditions. The studies do show an association between the two, but more research needs to be done to determine what that exact association is.
Some researchers have suggested that the tissues of the mouth can actually act as a “window” to the rest of the body and that by studying a patient’s oral health – or even using samples of periodontal tissue – we can better understand what is happening throughout the body.
Often patients who would never consider missing a yearly check-up with their general practitioner will go years between dental check-ups. Even when they get a toothache or notice blood in the sink when they brush, they think to themselves, “It’s just a little gingivitis. No big deal.”
The truth is that it is a big deal. You wouldn’t ignore high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, and it’s important to pay attention to other signs that something isn’t right. Studies have associated a 20% higher risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in patients with periodontal disease. That’s a sign that you should be paying attention to.
Periodontal disease can be treated. Depending on how advanced your disease is, surgery may be an option. If your dentist has informed you that you have advanced periodontal disease or periodontitis, call Southwest Oral Surgery for an evaluation to see if surgery is right for you.
Likewise, if your doctor has diagnosed you with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or an autoimmune condition, schedule a screening for periodontal disease.
Keeping your body healthy includes keeping your periodontal tissue in good shape too. Call Southwest Oral Surgery at 623-792-5794 today.