HEALTHY MOUTH AND HEALTHY BODY:
MAKING THE CONNECTION
"Brush and floss. Avoid too many snacks. See your dentist regularly." How many times have you heard that? Now there are even more reasons to heed that advice. Taking good care of your teeth and gums isn't just about preventing cavities or bad breath.
The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases such as diabetes, blood disorders, Sjogren's syndrome, HIV and AIDS may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.
The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and gum disease. Researchers have found that periodontitis (the advanced form of gum disease that can cause tooth loss) is linked with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, artery blockage, bacterial pneumonia or stroke. Likewise, pregnant women with periodontitis may have increased risk for delivering pre-term and/ or low birth-weight babies.
If you notice any of these signs, see your dentist:
*Gums that bleed during brushing and flossing
*Red, swollen or tender gums
*Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
*Persistent bad breath
*Pus between your teeth and gums
*Loose or separating teeth
*A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Given the potential link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, prevention is an important step in maintaining overall health.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Brush and floss your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks.
Schedule regular dental check-ups.
Tell your dentist about any changes in your overall health.
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, pay attention to your teeth and gums.