For most people, the major areas of health care affecting their everyday lives are medicine, dentistry and optometry. However, therein lies the problem, separating your physician, dentist and optometrist ignores the fact that overall health is intimately tied to all three major healthcare sectors. For too many years, insurance policies and government agencies have separated dentistry and optometry from more traditional doctor and hospital visits. We often overlook the fact that proper dental and eye care can significantly improve your overall health throughout the course of your life. With regular dental check-ups, you can ensure that your oral health is being appropriately maintained and you are able to prevent complications and infections. In this blog post, we are going to discuss the oral health crisis and how overlooking your oral health can significantly impact your overall health and wellbeing. Prevention is the most important aspect of oral healthcare and we recommend regularly visiting your dentist to ensure you are being monitored for signs of oral and systemic diseases.
Oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease, in addition to more severe illnesses such as oral cancers, affect nearly half of the global population. In fact, the most common health condition worldwide is dental decay. The current focus of dentistry on treatment over prevention is a confounding problem contributing to this oral health crisis. Many patients either don’t have adequate coverage or are unable to afford regular dental check-ups on a dentist-recommended schedule, resulting in oral health being largely neglected until issues arise. The resulting diseases can then rapidly decrease quality of life as patients struggle to keep their teeth. By making oral health a priority, appropriate preventative care can allow you to keep your teeth longer and prevent the complications that are caused by infection and neglect.
Overall Health Issues Related to Oral Health
Independent of the dental diseases that result from overlooked preventative oral health care, a patient’s overall health can additionally be affected by neglecting regular dental check-ups. This is because many of the risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes are also risk factors for developing oral diseases. For example, smoking and excessive sugar consumption predispose patients to developing gum disease and they also increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, people with gum disease are about twice as likely to develop heart disease over the course of their lifetime. If your dentist notices the early signs of gum disease, they can help remind you to discuss your options for monitoring heart disease with your family physician.
In addition to heart disease, several other diseases can show early symptoms that are evident in the mouth. For example, systemic diseases such as Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes are often first evident through oral symptoms like “fruity” breath. With poorly controlled diabetes, a patient is also more likely to develop frequent mouth infections and gum disease. Other systemic diseases linked to oral health include pregnancy and birth complications, as periodontitis (i.e. infections in the mouth) has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. In general, periodontal disease can also spread to cause infections such as pneumonia. HIV/AIDS infection can additionally result in painful lesions in mucosal sites of the mouth. The Academy of General Dentistry states that over 90% of all diseases result in oral symptoms that can be observed by a dentist. This makes it essential to book regular check-ups with your dentist to ensure they are monitoring both your oral health and the signs and symptoms that may be associated with these dangerous systemic diseases.
Tips for Preventing Oral Health Complications
Proper Oral Care
The best way to protect yourself from systemic disease and oral complications is prevention. Maintaining proper oral health and regularly visiting a dentist for a check-up can help improve your overall health. According to dental professionals, a proper oral health care routine involves brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. This should be combined with daily flossing and a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Your toothbrush itself should be replaced approximately every 3 months and this entire routine should be combined with regular check-ups and professional cleanings. Preventing an oral health crisis starts at home, with your daily routine.
Both dentists and physicians recognize that your diet can affect your overall health. Limiting your consumption of sugary foods, such as soda and candy, can help reduce your risk of developing a cavity or gum disease, in addition to reducing your risk of developing heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Tobacco use is also linked to an increased risk of gum disease, trench mouth and oral cancers as well as lung cancer and other systemic diseases. Quitting smoking and eliminating tobacco use can significantly improve both your oral and overall health.
Regular Dental Checkups
Most of the population agrees that regularly visiting your doctor can help improve your overall health. However, dentistry is often overlooked, despite being a crucial component of any healthcare routine. Regularly visiting your dentist can help prevent common oral diseases such as gum disease and cavities, while also providing important insight into your overall health. As you age, a proper oral healthcare routine can help prevent these oral and systemic diseases, saving you time, money and stress.
If you are concerned about your oral health or are looking for a dentist in the Toronto Area, look no further than the Mackenzie Dental Centre and Dr. Lloyd Pedvis. A practicing dentist for nearly 25 years, Dr. Pedvis is an expert when it comes to oral health and the oral signs of systemic disease. His friendly staff are dedicated to providing comprehensive oral care, from family to cosmetic dentistry. Mackenzie Dental Centre is in Woodbridge, Ontario and appointments can be booked both in person and on the phone at 905-417-8700. Whether you are looking to improve your smile with orthodontia, book a regular check-up or discuss your options for cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Pedvis and his team are here to help. There is no better time than today to start your journey towards a happier and healthier smile.