When looking at your over all physical health, and wanting to take steps to imrpove your health and to maintain a healthy lifestyle, understanding the importance and connection of your dental health to that goal is key.
Years ago, doctors who suspected diabetes would likely not refer their patient to a periodontist, a gum specialist. The times have changed though, and the connection between overall health and oral health is increasingly being recognized. Recent studies maintain that people with serious gum disease have a 40 percent greater risk of developing a chronic condition, confirming that improving your dental health is one of the best ways to improve your overall health.
Diabetes and Oral Health
The relationship between oral health and diabetes is significant. When bacteria accumulates on the teeth, it can lead to gum infections and inflammation. This inflammation affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and utilize insulin. This is particularly alarming for people with diabetes who already have trouble controlling their blood sugar. Matters are further complicated by the fact that high blood sugar creates an optimum environment for infections to form, including those that affect the gums.
Heart Disease and Oral Health
Over 90 percent of people with heart disease also have advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis. The two conditions share many risk factors, but many experts maintain that having gum disease raises the likelihood of developing heart disease. The reasoning behind the theory is that infections and inflammation in the mouth lead to blood vessel inflammation. When blood vessels are inflamed, less blood can move between the body and the heart, causing a spike in blood pressure.
Avoiding periodontal disease in the first place is one of the best ways to prevent diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic conditions, and practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly is the most effective way to protect your gums and teeth.
Discuss these topics and any questions you have with your dentist during your next appointment, and small steps in promoting dental health with help you to maintain and promote your overall physical health.
About the Author
Dr. Nhien Lu is an award winning cosmetic and smile makeover dentist in both Alexandria and Springfield Virginia. Connect with Dr. Lu on Google+