Dr. Pranathi Reddy is a Board-Certified Oral Surgeon with experience in facial deformities and reconstruction, as well as general maxillofacial surgical procedures. In the following article, Panathi Reddy, Dentist, explains how keeping a healthy mouth is often overlooked as the cause of other health issues, and how healthy dental habits are the key to staying well.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, oral health is the window to overall health.
Dr. Pranathi Reddy explains that practicing good oral hygiene means more than just a thumbs-up at the dentist’s office. It can be the difference between a healthy life and one that faces a litany of health challenges.
The risk of dying from a heart attack doubles in those with gum disease. Infections caused by cavities can spread throughout the body in ways that could even be fatal according to Panathi Reddy, Oral Surgeon.
Proper oral health prevents disease and lack of oral health leads to it. One’s general health greatly depends on the health of gums and teeth.
The eye-opening Healthy People 2020 project outlined 10 of the largest factors in overall health, and oral health was cited along with nutrition, healthcare access, and heart disease. Livelihood is impacted by oral health in ways some may find surprising explains Panathi Reddy, Dentist.
The study notes that good oral health is tied to positive human community and financial well-being. A third of the low-income adults participating in the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute studies say their oral health condition impacts job interviews.
What’s even more clear is the link between oral care and life-altering or life-threatening diseases. The National Institutes of Health reports that over 90% of all prevalent diseases have some form of oral symptom.
Rates of oral and pharyngeal (middle neck) cancers skyrocket among those with poor oral hygiene.
Diseases shown to have a link to oral health include:
Dr. Pranathi Reddy explains that dental plaque is a form of bacteria, and when that forms it can prove dangerous for your lungs and heart. Bacterial endocarditis, when the heart’s lining is enlarged, is linked to such dental plaque.
Those with periodontal disease are at a similarly elevated risk for stroke, as well as pneumonia when oral bacteria drifts into the lungs.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people are about twice as likely to have heart disease if they also have gum disease, especially the severe gum disease periodontitis.
In addition to endocarditis, those with poor oral health are more inclined to develop different forms of cardiovascular disease that are increasingly tied to gum inflammation and infections.
Diabetes on its own can lead to other health issues, including kidney failure, blindness, and heart disease.
Panathi Reddy, Dentist says that those who have issues controlling blood sugar have often been found to develop gum disease and lose teeth much more frequently than those without blood sugar issues. Infection resistance is lowered in people with diabetes, making the gums more vulnerable.
Gum disease is a factor in conditions such as low birth weight and premature birth, with studies finding that pregnant women with gum disease may be seven times more likely than average to experience premature birth.
Extremely high levels of the chemical prostaglandin, which induces labor, are a characteristic of periodontal disease.
The earlier an oral health concern is addressed, the better. Regular oral care, including brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing daily, goes a long way in keeping a mouth healthy between dental visits.
And visiting the dentist at least twice a year for cleanings is a must, even when one is doing a good job of maintaining good oral hygiene. During cleanings, professionals can rid the mouth of plaque missed at home. Dr. Pranathi Reddy says that tartar is effectively removed in a professional setting, and a powerful toothbrush washes out debris that may have been missed at home.
Fluoride treatments are additional approaches to oral health. Fluoride is a very effective way to prevent cavities and strengthen tooth enamel which helps fight damage from daily acid and bacteria.
Gum infections and tooth abscesses may need to be addressed through prescription antibiotics to fight infections. These come in rinses, topical gels, or tablets.
An emerging way to improve oral health is through probiotics. Recent research shows that gums and teeth may benefit from the healthy bacteria in probiotics. Probiotics have been shown to decrease gum disease inflammation, eliminate bad breath, and prevent plaque.
When it comes down to it, good oral health requires daily diligence.
In addition to cleaning at home and the dentist, Dr. Pranathi Reddy says that oral health problems can be prevented by limiting sugar-rich drinks and snacks, not smoking, and following a diet that’s low in fat and high in fiber, especially vegetables and fruit.