As a child you may have learned an African American spiritual song from the 1800s called “Dem Bones.” Even if you never learned it yourself, you’d probably recognize the familiar refrain, “the hip bone’s connected to the backbone, Backbone connected to the shoulder bone, Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone, Neck bone connected to the head bone.” Anatomical eccentricities aside, the song often serves to help children begin to understand how parts of our bodies are connected. You may accept that the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, but what about gum tissue’s connected to heart disease, or the sore jaw’s connected to the heart attack? These may seem farfetched or silly, but recent studies show we might want to pay more attention to our mouths to detect and prevent numerous systemic diseases. Regular dental health exams from Distinguished Dental – Sheri McIntosh DDS may be one of the best ways to diagnose and treat chronic illness. Call to schedule your next checkup with Dr. Sheri McIntosh at our Keller, TX family dental practice.
Can a Keller Dental Exam Diagnose Chronic Illness?
Thorough dental examinations every six months can help diagnose early warning signs related to multiple chronic health conditions. As your dentist becomes familiar with you and your mouth over time, certain indicators related to chronic illness are easy to detect. Patients with halitosis (bad breath) and bleeding gums may have diabetes, a sore jaw in conjunction with elevated blood pressure may be indicative of a coming heart attack, and erosion on the back sides of the teeth can be an indicator of acid reflux. Taking care of your dental health should probably be reason enough to visit the dentist twice a year, but a regular visit could also protect you from serious illness.
Can a Keller Dental Cleaning Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease?
While your dentist may notice signs of chronic illness due to the adverse effects on your oral health, the relationship between systematic disease and poor dental hygiene seems to be symbiotic. This is especially true when it comes to periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease often starts as a mild case of gingivitis, a buildup of plaque around the gum line, but left untreated it can progress to periodontitis which creates pockets of infection that can separate the tooth from the gums and break down bone density. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. Recent studies have also linked periodontal disease with numerous systematic diseases including:
- Diabetes – Inflammation and infection in the gums interferes with the body’s natural ability to use insulin, and high blood sugar creates an ideal environment for bacteria to prosper. Thus, the higher the blood sugar the more bacterial growth, and more bacterial growth interferes with insulin further raising blood sugar. Luckily the relationship between the two disorders means that treating one often has a significant effect on the other.
- Preterm/low weight births – Infection and inflammation anywhere in the body interferes with fetal development. Hormonal imbalance during pregnancy make women much more likely to develop gum disease. A condition frequently referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. A large percentage of women who deliver early or underdeveloped children also suffer from gum disease.
- Heart disease – 91% of patients with heart disease also suffer from periodontitis. While the connection here is not as clear to physicians, both disease have similar risk factors smoking, overweight, and genetic predisposition. One theory currently being researched is the idea that inflamed blood cells are harder to circulate raising blood pressure. Additionally, fatty plaque deposits from blood cells could reach the brain or heart leading to heart attack or stroke.
- Osteoporosis – Probably one of the most controversial connections, many physicians agree that bone density loss found in the jawbone during regular dental examinations can be considered an indicator for possible overall loss of bone density. Another connection found in recent research suggests that women with gum disease are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Further research is being conducted to determine the extent of this connection.
Call your Keller Dentist
Don’t put off your oral health. Schedule an appointment with our dedicated dental care team today. Regular checkups contribute to tracking your overall heath and could even save your life. Call our Keller, TX office for any of your oral health care needs. Our practice welcomes patients from surrounding areas including Roanoke, Haltom City, Fort Worth, Westlake, and Southlake.