Some people think I’m crazy when I say I LOVE going to the dentist, especially to get my teeth cleaned. I love the feeling after a session with the dental hygienist – smooth teeth and gums that say, “thank you for taking care of me!” Today’s guest blogger, Felicia Baratz, gives us even more reason to look forward to our dentist trips!
There are many connections between oral health and the general health of your body. Several studies specifically focus on the correlation between poor oral health and diseases in seemingly unrelated places. These correlations suggest that keeping your mouth healthy may be essential to your overall vitality.
The links between gum disease and heart problems are widely reported and also widely debated. Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, can be caused by mouth bacteria entering the bloodstream. Both gum disease and gum surgery can open the blood vessels to invasion by this bacteria. If a patient has a compromised immune system or a faulty heart valve, this can lead to serious problems.
Long-term irritation from periodontitis can lead to inflammation of the arteries and other blood vessels. This can eventually cause heart disease, stroke or blockages in the arteries.
The connection between gum disease and cardiovascular problems is among one of the most well-documented. Scientific examination has found that arterial plaque contains some of the same bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Although the way these bacteria cause problems isn’t totally understood, researchers believe that they may secrete toxins or increase inflammation in the blood vessels.
Sometimes, the correlations work in reverse: Tooth and gum problems can be caused by other systemic diseases. Diabetes lowers infection resistance and can lead to bacterial gum infections. Poorly-controlled blood sugar is also associated with tooth loss.
Another condition that can cause tooth loss and jaw problems is osteoporosis. Since teeth and jaws are made of bone, they are at risk of falling to the same destructive processes as the rest of the skeleton.
It goes without saying that people with good oral health enjoy better overall health, at least when it comes to the studied conditions. Decatur, IL dentist Dr. Warren Jesek says that proper oral hygiene can help senior citizens avoid infections that would otherwise lead to tooth loss, bad breath and bone deterioration.
Jesek also says that those with compromised immune systems or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should have their teeth cleaned more often than normally recommended in order to lessen the chance of infection-related problems.
Many people don’t go to the dentist as often as they should due to financial reasons (some are fearful of the pain). This doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to the variety of dental insurance plans, it’s possible for most people to find one that is both affordable and comprehensive enough to cover their needs. It is also possible to get individual dental insurance. The days of this coverage only being available through employers are over.
One way to find a good dental insurance plan is to check the site of a major insurer. Insurance companies almost always list their options on their websites and offer ways to get quotes on those that fit your requirements. You can also check their sites to see if your favorite dentist is in the network you’re considering. If it turns out that he or she isn’t on the list, look for a plan that will cover work done by dentists outside the network. Chances are good that you can still gain substantial savings.
About the Author
Felicia Baratz is a writer living in the Indianapolis area. As a writer for doseofmyown.com, she specializes in articles about health and nutrition.
Did you know that there are health implications of poor dental hygiene besides losing your teeth? Do you love, hate or feel neutral for your dentist visits? Tell us about it in the comments below!