At SmileArkansas in Little Rock our dental hygienists, Kelley and Whitney are dedicated to spreading the word of the mouth-body health link. These caring dental professionals are working to change the awareness of oral health and its connection with the whole body health. Our hygienists are not only experts in dental prevention but serve as a resource to help our patients become more educated about their overall health and wellness.
Many people are unaware that there is a strong connection between oral health and systemic health; systemic meaning in relationship to the entire body. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, oral health is linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, and more.
Diabetic patients are much more likely to have periodontal disease, partly because they are more susceptible to contracting infections. Periodontal disease is often considered a high risk complication of diabetes because it can increase blood sugar levels, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar making it harder for diabetics to control.
Studies also show that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels, and increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, therefore causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
The most ideal prevention program is being proactive. Regular dental exams and cleanings as recommended by your dentist and dental hygienist are necessary to remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar and detect early signs of gum disease. At home care should include: brushing twice daily, in the morning and at night, flossing daily, and the use of a chemotherapeutic mouth rinse to reduce bacteria formation and inflammation.
Gum disease affects 80% of American adults and often the condition goes undiagnosed. Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
- Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Teeth that are loose or separating from each other