The eyes may be the window to the soul but your mouth is the gateway to your health. Your dental team can identify signs of not only tooth decay and other dental issues, but also chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Many dental patients are surprised by what your mouth says about your health! And, it is a two-way relationship: Oral disease can cause poor health and poor general health can lead to oral health issues.
Your Body’s Health Reflects Your Oral Health
Your overall health can’t be separated from your oral health. Primary care physicians, dentists, and orthodontists each have a role to play in keeping your mouth–and you–healthy.
As part of your dental team, when your dentist examines your teeth and mouth, we are looking for evidence of poor dental hygiene but also nutritional deficits and damage from habits like smoking and alcohol use, all things that your mouth can reveal about your health. Many patients are surprised how your oral health can reveal so many clues about your overall health.
Here are some conditions and diseases that may affect your oral health in the future:
- Mouth (and other) cancer
- Substance abuse disorders
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Pregnancy issues
- Erectile dysfunction
- Kidney disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Diseases like diabetes and HIV/AIDS, for example, lower the body’s resistance to infection. This makes oral health problems worse. If identified, these conditions can then be treated to relieve the symptoms and prevent any further spread. And, good oral health care can be part of that effort.
Signs of Possible Oral Health Issues
Watch for these signs of potential oral health problems (which can also point to physical health problems):
- Oral thrush (candidiasis): Also sometimes simply referred to as thrush, this fungal infection appears as white patches on your tongue.
- Dry mouth: Frequent dry mouth isn’t healthy. Saliva helps with tasting and digesting food, keeping the mouth clean, and healing wounds in the mouth.
- Mouth or jaw pain: This can be due to an infection or tooth decay, but can signal something more serious, such as heart disease.
- Mouth cancer symptoms: Often looks like thrush. Watch for problems with swallowing or moving your tongue, a persistent sore throat, ear pain, voice changes, lumps, sores, or thickening in the throat, lips, or mouth.
Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you definitely have serious health issues, but if you notice any of them you should talk to not only your dentist but your primary care doctor right away as well.
Good Oral Hygiene Is One of Your Best Defenses
Here are the keys to an effective oral hygiene routine/plan to keep both your mouth and your body healthy:
Brush First Thing In The Morning
By brushing before you do anything else in the morning, you strip away the bacteria that forms plaque on your teeth overnight.
Replace Your Toothbrush Every Two to Three Months
Bristles that are splayed or worn no longer clean your teeth properly.
Brush After Meals
If possible, brush after every meal. Carry a travel brush and toothpaste with you. If it isn’t possible to brush after a meal for some reason, do it as soon as you can.
Brush For Two Minutes, Every Time
And make it count. Get all the nooks and crannies in the back, both upper and lower.
Use an Electric or Rechargeable Toothbrush
Yes, they make a difference! Ask us for our recommendations about the most cost-effective yet efficient brands.
Rinse With Fluoride Mouthwash or Water
Using a fluoride mouthwash helps reduce plaque buildup, cavities, and bad breath.
Flossing ensures that you reach past the gum line, which a toothbrush can’t do. The gums are stimulated and this helps prevent gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis).
Scrape Your Tongue When You Brush
Scraping removes bacteria that ends up on your teeth.
Give Up Sugary Foods and Drinks
It will not only help your dental health but also your overall health. But if you do eat or drink anything with sugar, rinse out your mouth with mouthwash right away. Brush again.
Bacteria that causes decay feeds on sugar, which increases the chance of developing tooth decay. If you use a straw and angle it toward the back of your mouth, it minimizes the damage done to your teeth by sugar.
Avoid Using Tobacco
Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making smokers more susceptible to infections.
A good oral health routine takes commitment but the rewards are well worth it. If you need to adjust something in the routine so it works for you, do it. Maybe flossing doesn’t work for you at night; do it in the morning. Also, make sure your routine is consistent. You can miss brushing once or twice in a week, but not every day.
TLC Dental Center Cares About Your Overall Health, Too
Here are some other things we recommend to help maintain good overall health as well:
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Exercise (at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day).
- If you have diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is under control.
- If you smoke, stop.
- Avoid or limit the use of alcohol.
- Drink more water.
Let’s Make It a Team Effort!
Dr. Kardon and the dental care team here at TLC Dental Center want to be part of the joint effort to help you maintain a healthy mouth and body. We aim to provide exceptional dental service, but also a lifetime relationship based on your overall good health!
Contact us using our online form or call (856) 667-1001.