Many people are unaware of the crucial connection between oral health and the body’s overall health. The mouth is often described as the gateway to the body and poor oral health and lack of dental checkups and screenings can leads to a variety of health complications: jaw pain, headaches, heart disease, sleep apnea and oral cancer. Many of these complications can be prevented, diagnosed and treated by practicing good oral hygiene with regular dental checkups.
Gingivitis and Heart Health
Good dental care is as important for the heart as it is for the mouth. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that often signals more serious dental health issues. Gingivitis can be easily avoided by regular brushing, flossing, rinsing, and regular dental checkups. As people with gingivitis are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease, practicing good dental hygiene is a crucial aspect of protecting the health of heart patients. When the gums are inflamed, the inflammation and chemicals released can deteriorate the gums and surrounding bone structure, resulting in severe gum disease, jaw pain and headaches. When the bacterial build up in the mouth moves into the blood stream, it sticks to the sides of the arteries, narrowing and blocking them. As these plaques block blood flow, the result can be heart attack and stroke.
Regular dental checkups can help identify and treat OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) and the problems it can lead to. OSA is a disorder during which sleeping individuals experience shallow breathing and pauses in breathing caused by an airway obstruction. The disorder can cause low blood oxygen levels and contribute to coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and has also been linked to cancers outside the mouth. Regular checkups allows your dentist the necessary time and conversation to learn about these problems. With new discoveries in technology, modern dental appliances are instrumental in treating sleep apnea.
As OCS (oral cancer screening) is the best way to detect the presence of oral cancers early on, dental hygienists screen for oral cancer as part of every dental checkup. Regardless of age, patients are educated on detecting oral health problems and the risk factors of developing oral cancers. Through extra- and intra-oral examinations using sight, sound and touch, the presence of any mouth abnormalities are monitored and detected. HPV (human papilloma virus) is a common virus group that affects the body’s mucosal areas, and exposure to HPV is one of the main paths leading to the development of oral cancer. As HPV16 appears at the bottom of the tongue, the tonsils and the throat’s posterior, early detection of the disease through regular dental checkups is key to survival. When it comes to oral health, the old adage of “An ounce of prevention is worth a dose of cure” definitely applies. Through practicing good oral hygiene coupled with regular dental checkups, issues of jaw pain, headaches, gingivitis, sleep apnea and oral cancer can be monitored, identified and treated.
Dr. Stephen Poss, Nashville Cosmetic Dentist, practices a wide variety of dentistry. He specializes in cosmetic dentistry, treatment of sleep apnea and tmj, oral cancer screenings, general dentistry and much more. Please call our office if you think you may be suffering from any of these problems.