The Mouth-Body Connection


You may have heard of the mind-body connection, but what about the mouth-body connection? To many people, a dental visit is about getting their teeth cleaned, having a tooth pulled, or getting a filling. However, a dental visit is not just about teeth. It is also about your overall health. What goes on in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. What goes on in your body also can have an effect on your mouth.

Many diseases and conditions can affect your oral health. For example, people may get more infections in the mouth if their immune system is weak. The immune system protects your body from illness and infection. It can be weakened by disease, by drugs taken to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, or as a side effect of cancer chemotherapy drugs.

Medicine for other conditions also can affect the health of your mouth. For example, many drugs cause dry mouth. This can increase your risk of dental decay and yeast infections. It also can affect taste.

While examining your mouth, your dentist might see a sign or symptom of an illness or disease that you might not even know you have. The dentist may perform tests and/or refer you to a specialist for treatment.

If you have certain medical conditions, you may need specialized oral and dental care. If necessary, your dentist can refer you to an expert in oral medicine.

Your oral health also can affect other medical conditions. For example, if you are diabetic, a mouth infection can disrupt your blood-sugar levels and make your diabetes harder to control. Researchers also are exploring whether periodontal (gum) disease may increase the risk of various medical problems. These may include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and premature births.

About 35% of U.S. adults have some form of periodontitis. Another 50% have gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Because gum disease is so common, its treatment and management can have important implications for overall public health.


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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.

Keep your teeth clean with an oral health routine.

Establishing an oral health routine is important for a healthy mouth. Try one of our oral health products to help you establish a schedule.