It’s no secret that your bodily health is linked to your dental health. Increasing evidence is
showing that conditions in the body can actually affect your smile, and vice versa. Being aware of your body’s health can help you take better care of your teeth and gums, especially when you know that certain conditions that influence your smile. Which conditions in the body have been linked to your oral health?
Expecting a Child
Pregnancy can be both a very exciting and challenging time for new moms. Expecting a child can increase hormones in the body that affect your gum tissue, which can put you at greater risk for gingivitis, or gum inflammation . While not every expecting mother will have these symptoms, some women may experience swollen or tender gums, or gums that bleed when brushing. If you’re seeing any of these symptoms, it’s important to follow up with your dentist to help prevent the condition from progressing to full-blown gum disease!
Heart problems such as heart disease and endocarditis—an infection in the lining of your heart’s chamber and valves—can be linked to your dental health. For example, in the most common type of heart disease, coronary artery disease, plaque builds up in your arteries, which causes them to narrow and reduce or even block blood flow. Dental plaque has been found in the arteries, and experts suggest inflammation may be the link between dental and arterial plaque and certain heart conditions .
When your blood sugar is too high, it can negatively affect your dental health. People who have diabetes are more at risk for gum disease as well as oral infections as a result of this condition . This is because while diabetes itself can increase your risk for gum disease, existing gum disease may also make diabetes harder to control. People with diabetes may also be more at risk for chronic dry mouth.
If you have a condition that compromises your immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cancer, or are undergoing treatment for cancer, you may be more at risk for oral infections . This is because your immune system isn’t able to properly fight oral bacteria that can cause these infections, or in the case of oral thrush, keep your mouth’s natural yeast, called candida, in check.
Certain cognitive disorders can also affect dental health. As cognitive decline happens, for example, in people who have Alzheimer’s disease, people can forget the correct way to take care of their oral health . Brushing and flossing may become difficult or impossible, which can cause people to have poor oral hygiene and lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Your Dentist Is Your Partner in Oral Care
No matter what health conditions you’re facing, your dentist is your partner in excellent oral care. Your dentist can help you manage chronic conditions that may be affecting your oral health, from heart disease and diabetes to cancer, or can help you successfully navigate your pregnancy to support the health of both you and your baby!