No doubt you’re familiar with the expression, “You are what you eat.” But from the point-of-view of a dentist in Austin, that only explains part of the mouth’s connection to the rest of your body. The fact is your mouth—all by itself—can have a serious impact on the general condition of your body. This is known as the oral-systemic connection, and it has been shown to link the health of your mouth to your overall health. Once you know about this connection, you’ll better understand the value of maintaining good oral health.
THE ORAL-SYSTEMIC CONNECTION
The oral-systemic connection is the name dentists, doctors and researchers have given to the close link between your mouth and the rest of your body. This connection largely rests on the health of your gum tissue.
Millions of bacteria call your mouth home. Left to multiply unchecked, these bacteria can lead to periodontal disease, which is divided into phases:
- Advanced Periodontitis
As gum or periodontal disease sets in, your immune system attacks, and your gums become inflamed. Left untreated, gum disease progresses, the inflammation becomes worse and eventually, gum and bone tissue are destroyed.
GUM DISEASE AND YOUR GENERAL HEALTH
As if the problems that gum disease causes in your mouth weren’t bad enough, the inflammation can lead to other health issues throughout your body. For example, there is a strong connection between heart disease and periodontitis. Studies show the same inflammation that happens with gum disease can also show up in your veins and arteries. And with inflamed blood vessels, the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke increases.
Other conditions that are connected to oral bacterial infections include:
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Pregnancy complications, including low birth weight infants
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Pneumonia and other respiratory conditions
HOW TO HAVE A HEALTHY MOUTH AND BODY
Of course, you know that brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is a key to avoiding cavities. But did you know that your daily oral hygiene routine helps clear away the plaque that can lead to gum disease? Without proper brushing and flossing to remove plaque from the surfaces of teeth and in between, the bacteria in this sticky film accumulates—especially along the gum line, making periodontal tissue susceptible to infection.
In addition, scheduling regular checkups with a dentist in Austin is important to your oral health, and consequently your general health, too. The professional cleaning and examination that happens during these appointments help to ward off trouble before big problems can begin. So, call to schedule dental checkups for your family today!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Hector Carlos Tijerina is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio and Baylor College of Dentistry. At his practice, Parkfield Family Dental, he offers preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Tijerina is bilingual and speaks English and Spanish.