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It's not (just) about your teeth

You might have heard it pretty often: The usual stuff that dentists say. Don’t ignore your teeth. Your teeth are part of your body, and that your oral health is part of your general health.

But why is it really so? What will happen if you have bad oral health?

·       Bad breath

·       Stained teeth

·       Difficulty in chewing

·       Might be not a very pleasant smile

·       Or the worst case you might lose all your teeth

After all what is the mouth for? Eating and speaking.

You might be better off with implants all over, at least they don’t hurt after they are placed ;-)

RIGHT?

Well! you might not have got to THAT extreme of ignoring oral health.

But cross your heart and answer

You HAVE ignored some (minor) issues relating to your mouth and teeth!

YES?

read on!

Although in this post we shall be discussing that how oral health is related to general health; on a side note it is better not to ignore oral diseases because they just get more severe with time

Let’s start with the basics

How is oral health the basis of general health?

Along with being very much a part of the body, having a very thin tissue lining (the tissue lining the mouth is 2 layers thinner than the skin) results in the mouth very closely interacting with the rest of the body. The mouth not only interacts with the stomach, but also with the rest of the body through blood vessels and with the surrounding areas of the head and neck through muscle spaces.

The mouth is very rich in blood supply. This is also the basis for the medicine that is placed beneath the tongue (and dissolves by itself) used in cases of sudden chest pain.

Thus,

a)     at times the infection/bacteria from the mouth can spread to certain definitive areas of the body like

·        Heart

·        Chest

·        Brain

·        Eyes

·        Throat

·        Nose

b)     At times the earliest signs of diseases can be first seen in the mouth before they are seen in any other organ these include

·        Ulcerative diseases of the skin

·        Diabetes

·        AIDS

·        Stress related conditions

·        Sleep disturbances

The bacteria in the mouth can enter the blood stream by wounds in the mouth or in cases of severe gum diseases. These bacteria migrate to the heart valves (small leaf like structures in the heart) and stiffen these valves. Once these valves get hardened they decrease the efficiency of pumping of the heart that leads to multiple conditions, including swelling of the feet and knees.

Muscles that are present in and around the mouth, attach and interact with areas in the chest and eyes. An aggressive infection in the mouth can spread to these areas causing swellings and infections. These infections can cause severe swellings, closing the breathing tube or damaging the eyes and vison. This can result in life threatening conditions and could even be fatal.

Recent research has also shown that an increase in bacterial count in the mouth resulting in long standing infection of the gums can worsen diabetes. Also, diabetes results in increased gum diseases. The healing of a dental wound is also slowed in case of diabetes.

There are multiple skin conditions that are first seen in the mouth. These include rare, but often fatal (if not diagnosed in a timely manner) diseases like pemphigus and bullous pemphigoid.

HIV/AIDS also shows its first signs of activation in the lining of the mouth.

Thus, the relation of systemic diseases with oral symptoms/conditions is bidirectional. The earliest signs/symptoms of worsening of certain conditions can be seen in the mouth and thus be diagnosed by a dentist. Also, diseases of the teeth/mouth can cause diseases in multiple organs and surrounding structures that could be fatal.

How can an issue/condition in the mouth cause diseases in the rest of the body?

The reasons for this are

·        The structures of the mouth interact with the surrounding structures/organs

·        The mouth is very rich in blood supply, making it closely related to the heart, from where the entire blood of the body passes.

·        The veins of the mouth interact with the veins of the brain, facilitating the spread of infections of the mouth to the brain

·        The skin and the tissue lining the mouth are similar. The only difference being the thickness of the various layers and the number of layers. Thus, impending skin diseases could first present in the mouth. The treatment of these diseases also heavily depends on early diagnosis.

·        Diabetes being a metabolic disease and having involvement of multiple organs, also effects the oral tissue.

·        The mouth also interacts with the breathing tube, and thus any difficulty in breathing, or a long term habit from breathing from mouth can be easily diagnosed by a dentist.

What are the oral symptoms of these diseases?

 The signs that you need to look out for to avoid worsening of any of the above mentioned conditions are

·        Whenever you get any sensitivity/ black spot on the tooth get it treated immediately

·        If you have any swelling in your mouth/face, contact the dentist immediately

·        DO NOT ignore any tooth pain. It is a sign of an early infection that can spread to the heart/brain

·        If there is any change in the tissue of your gums/ cheek contact the dentist immediately

·        DO NOT ignore ulcers that don’t heal within 2 weeks. Get them evaluated  

·        If you see any white spot/ patch on the inner side of your cheek or gums, contact the dentist

·        If you feel a burning sensation in your mouth get it evaluated

·        Make sure your gums DO NOT bleed on brushing

·        If you have bad breath despite adequate oral hygiene get it evaluated

·        If you feel head or neck stiffness on waking up or if your mouth is excessively dry on waking up, get it evaluated by a dentist

·        If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly, and let the dentist know about the values.

If you have any of the above symptoms, it is important to get it checked by a dentist to understand the oral issues and its ramifications in the body.

Why should I consult a dentist for these conditions?

Many of these conditions do not have a definitive treatment and need a proper management to lessen the symptoms.

The mouth might be the first area where the signs / symptoms of these conditions are seen. Thus, if you see any of the above symptoms, it is extremely important to get it evaluated, as an early evaluation will result in a better long term result of the condition.

Can a dentist help in treating these conditions?

YES. The dentist themselves, or with a team of other doctors can help you resolve/ manage these conditions at the earliest.

As an example, if the dentist observes that you have severe gum disease, they would treat the gum disease AND refer you for a blood test to check for diabetes. An early diagnosis of diabetes with improved blood sugar control would prevent multi organ damage that is a result of longstanding uncontrolled diabetes.

Many of these conditions could be managed online with prescriptions and regular follow-ups, without a visit to the dental clinic @ https://dentop.in/

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