The Mouth as a Window to Your Health

Your dental health affects your overall health - Dr. David Shannon, NorthridgeResearch is showing some amazing connections between the mouth and the rest of the body.

Heart Disease, Stroke, and Clogged Arteries

The same plaque that builds up on the teeth is linked to the plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart and the head causing stroke and heart attacks. 75% of people have some sort of gum disease in the United States. There is also 75% of people who have heart, stroke, and coronary artery disease.

This is no coincidence. Researchers say the bacteria that causes the plaque in the mouth get into the blood stream through the tiny blood vessels in the gums. When the gums are red and inflamed, those blood vessels are more susceptible to bacterial invasion and when the get into the blood they are trapped in the major vessels that feed the heart and brain and clogging them is life threatening. Simply having Dr. Shannon take a dental approach may be enough to turn the tide of early heart disease.

Osteoporosis. Estrogen deficiency and low mineral bone density are a concern of women in menopause. Hormonal changes begin to effect the bone in the mouth so that simple x rays could show early signs of change that can be addressed before advanced problems become a major event. Perodontitis can be more rampant with patients already showing signs of osteoporosis and needs aggressive preventive care to stabilize before the loss of bone and teeth.

Respiratory Disease. The mouth can be both the cause and the diagnostic agent in respiratory disease. In some cases COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can worsen due to bacterial levels in the mouth and in other cases there can be a link where the gum tissues harbor bacterial levels that bring on the COPD condition. Other issues such as pnuemonia, emphasema, and upper respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis can actually be caused by the poor condition of the oral cavity. The link between these diseases and the mouth start with the bacteria spreading through inhalation. Once in the lungs, spreading happens quickly due to poor immune defense.

Pregnancy. The unborn child is at risk if the expectant mother develops or has periodontal disease. Low fetal weight, premature births, and even loss of the baby has been attributed to periodontal disease. Diabetes in the mother as well as the normal hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause periodontal degeneration without the mother even being aware. An evaluation at the early stages of the pregnancy can easily correct any problem. This problem can continue after the pregnancy into breast feeding where the bacteria of the mouth have been found in the coronary arteries of the mother as well as the breast milk being used to feed the baby. Dental prevention and home care is the best solution for an expectant mother.