Many people treat their teeth and gums separate from the rest of their body yet they are actually more connected than you realise. See, good oral health is a reflection of good overall health — and this is because our mouth is the gateway to the amazing but complex system that is ‘the human body’.
I’m sure you’re curious to learn what your mouth can teach you but before we dive into those details. Let’s get a better understanding of the Mouth-Body Connection first.
The Mouth-Body Connection
When you visit your dentist and oral health therapist, don’t think of it as simply having your teeth checked, consider it an overall health checkup, too! For instance, there are certain medications that can cause dry mouth or increase your chances of having gum disease. What’s more, if you have a poor oral health it can be a sign of a weakened immune system which leaves your body susceptible to illnesses and infections.
Since your dental practitioner is trained in spotting oral problems, if they see any, they’ll be able to troubleshoot if the symptoms are from a mouth-body connection or not.
With that said, here are five things you can learn about your overall health just by looking at your mouth.
The 5 Things Your Oral Health Can Tell You
- Diabetes. Dry mouth, inflamed gums, gum disease, mouth infections, and problems with tasting food can be signs of diabetes.
- Sleep apnoea. If you snore a lot there can be a good chance you have sleep apnoea and airway problems. Signs can also include teeth grinding, gum disease, dry mouth, and sore throats.
- Pregnancy. Due to changes in your hormones, gingivitis, bleeding gums, and ‘pregnancy tumors’ (which are actually benign and grow in-between teeth) can be the result of pregnancy.
- Dietary Issues. Weak teeth can signal vitamin D and calcium deficiencies, while gum disease and mouth infections can be due to not having enough vitamin C. What’s more, inflamed gums can mean you need more magnesium, Vitamin B and K2 in your diet.
- Heart disease. Serious gum disease has the potential to spread bacteria via the blood stream, which could possibly lead to heart disease and aspiration pneumonia. Bleeding gums is not ‘normal’ because it is a sign your immune system is out of balance and your body is fighting infections.
Now you know some of the symptoms your mouth can show you about issues elsewhere in your body, here are a couple interesting facts about how your mouth contributes to your overall health.
The Importance of Saliva to Your Health
The liquid in your mouth does a myriad of wonders for your overall health. Not only does it help in the first stages of digesting food, it can also prevent your mouth from getting infections. What’s more, saliva helps control bad breath, even protects your teeth from tooth decay and gum disease.
So you see, saliva isn’t just for swallowing, it’s on the front line for helping maintain your overall health.
Bacteria: Your Mouth is Home to Millions
Did you know that your mouth has an entire ecosystem of bacteria in there? You cannot see or feel them but they’re definitely present.
Contrary to popular belief, not all bacteria are bad. There are the good ones, called probiotics which can be beneficial to your overall health.
But then there are the bad ones, with the two most common types being Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The latter, when present, can be a sign that you have periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.
So how can you keep the bad bacteria from ruining your health? Practice good oral hygiene: brush, clean in between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes, and have dental checkups regularly. Furthermore, limit your sugar intake and acidic foods and drinks because it fuels these nasty bacteria.
So there you have it. A healthy mouth means a healthy body. But if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, then it’s time for a urgent dental check-up to ensure you don’t have any deeper mouth-body connection issues.
Book an appointment today for oral disease prevention and treatment, or call us at (03) 9041 5301 for your other oral health care needs.