Why IS Oral Health So Important

You’ve heard it a time to two… brush and floss and see your dentist every 6 months! But why, many people ask, is oral health so important.
Oral health is an indication of your overall health. Many years ago, oral health was considered seperate from cardiovascular health, endocrine health, and your health during pregnancy. Today, after many years of extensive research, we understand that the oral cavity is just one part of the overall picture of your health.
Today, a visit to your dentist will include a detailed medical history, evaluation of your blood pressure, and cancer screening. We are often asked, “Is all this necessary?” And the answer is YES! No longer are we just looking at your teeth and gum tissue because we now know that what we learn from the mouth can tell us so much more about you.
Dentists are often consulted when a patient notices tooth pain, bleeding gums, bad breath, or a sore area in the mouth that doesn’t seem to heal, and we are trained to help with these issues. In addition to helping with tooth and gum issues, we also may identify high blood pressure, diabetes, or a cancerous lesion. Because of advances in our understanding of health, we are prepared to treat and identify more than just cavities.
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is an important part of good oral hygiene, but it is that visit to the dentist for a “checkup” that allows us to identify dental and sometimes medical issues that can have long term consequences. Regardless of how well you brush and floss, plaque and calculus will build up on the surfaces of the teeth and tongue. Plaque is a sticky biofilm of bacteria and often starts to build up only a few hours after brushing your teeth. Calculus or tartar is a hardened plaque, and presents as a chalky substance made up of calcium phosphate mineral salts deposited between formerly viable microorganisms. It adheres to the tooth crown and root. This can only be removed by a trained dental professional. If this plaque and calculus is not removed, the gum tissue close to it becomes irritated, red and puffy. This is called gingivitis. As time goes on, this continued build up leads to bone loss around the tooth root. Without adequate bone, teeth can become loose. This is what we call periodontal disease, and it is hard to correct once it has become chronic.
Periodontal disease causes an immune response throughout the body as it tries to fight the high levels of bacteria. The bacteria from the mouth doesn’t just stay in the mouth, but moves throughout the bloodstream. Bacteria moving through the bloodstream can cause damage to your heart and arteries and lead to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. A high bacterial load also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels for those living with diabeties. In addition, periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight babies.
Bad breath is another topic we talk with patients about often. Did you know that the bacteria that sits on your teeth and gums can also hang out on your tongue? Brushing your tongue and using a ADA approved oral rinse daily can help tremendously with bad breath. Acid reflux is another cause of bad breath and if bad breath doesn’t respond after good brushing of your teeth and tongue, flossing, and rinsing, then acid reflux or other medical issues may be the cause. It may present as a dental concern, but ultimately be a medical condition.
Blood pressure and medical history updates are also an important way we evaluate overall health. Elevated blood pressure could just be due to anxiety or stress, but some elevated pressure readings indicate a larger cadiovascular issue. A dental cleaning appointment may just save your life.
We at Grove Avenue Family & Cosmetic Dentistry educate our patients on these facts and take your overall health seriously. Through blood pressure monitoring, oral cancer screening, dental exams, and dental care we take care of our patients. We know that starting a dental care relationship with a dentist and hygienist can sometimes be overwhelming, but we are here to help you navigate and create a healthy dental plan. We offer sedation options for your comfort and take the time to talk and listen to you. Developing a strong relationship with our patients leads to trust and ultimately a comfortable dental appointment.
For more facts about oral health log onto our website at Grovesmiles.com or call us to set up a new patient appointment at 804-285-1378.