Oral health: A vital indicator of your general health status
Did you know that bad oral health has the potential to cause deadly respiratory infections and chronic diseases like cancer and heart conditions? Yes! Your oral health is directly linked to your general health. Dentists warn that prolonged neglect of oral health can lead to serious health complications or worsen existing chronic health issues. This fact can come as a rude shock to many of us because of the general misconception that oral hygiene is all about sparkling white teeth and an attractive smile.
In this blog, we aim to shed light on bad oral health and its impact on general health. We must arm ourselves with these facts to enhance our approach towards dental care and hygiene.
Understanding the connection between oral health and overall health
Every dental issue stems from the mouth, which is already a thriving ecosystem for bacteria. It also serves as a major entry point to the digestive and respiratory tracts. Oral bacteria combined with the inflammation caused by Periodontitis can jeopardize the delicate immune system in diabetic, cancer and HIV patients.
To understand this better, let's take a look at the conditions that are influenced by bad oral health:
- Respiratory complications
Bacteria that are lodged in the teeth and gums can enter the lungs through the bloodstream. Once these deadly microorganisms settle in the lungs, they can cause pneumonia, COPD, acute bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases.
Despite a causative relationship not being established, general studies highlight the connection between heart diseases and bad oral health. Oral bacteria can easily spread through the bloodstream and infect the heart. Prolonged infection of the heart chambers and valves causes Endocarditis and Atherosclerosis, thus increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- Pregnancy and birth complications
The hormonal changes induced by pregnancy can make a woman more susceptible to oral infections. Any such infections can increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
Besides, gum diseases like Periodontitis and Gingivitis have been linked to premature birth and low birth weight in infants.
HIV patients are susceptible to dental infections because of their compromised immunity. Painful mucosal lesions and other oral issues are common amongst patients with HIV infection. These issues can cause trouble with chewing and swallowing, which will lead to malnutrition in due course of time. A compromised digestive system will also affect the absorption of HIV drugs during treatment.
Uncontrolled diabetes impacts the body's ability to resist and fight infection. Diabetic people who do not practice good oral hygiene are vulnerable to frequent and more severe gum diseases like Periodontitis. Also, periodontal diseases make it challenging to have diabetes under control. Hence, a person with unchecked gum diseases is likely to develop diabetes because of the high blood glucose levels.
Oral and throat cancer are the most common outcomes of smoking and tobacco usage. But studies show that poor oral health can also increase the risk for cancers of the kidney, blood, and pancreas. Some types of cancers are also linked to gum diseases.
The health issues mentioned above are likely to occur if you have neglected your dental health for an extensive period. Many patients blame long-term dental neglect on their busy lifestyle, lack of time, financial issues and fear. But, when signs and symptoms start cropping up, it is time to make that long-pending visit to your dentist.
An overdue dental check up differs from a regular check up. Here's a list of what you ought to expect when visiting your dentist after many years.
Things to expect from your first dental visit after many years
If it is your first visit in years, your appointment will probably take more time. Your dentist will need to make a thorough assessment of the problems and health status of the oral cavity. Long-term plaque builds up, and hidden cavities can take a lot of time to be removed and restored. Hence, it is better to expect a prolonged visit and make the most of it by discussing your queries with your dentist.
A dental x-ray gives a clear picture of your current oral health. It will help identify cavities and determine their severity. With a dental x-ray, your dentist will be able to decide on the course of treatment and the extent of work required to restore your dental health.
- A complete mouth examination
The next best thing to a dental x-ray is a complete mouth examination to check the health status of the teeth, gums, jaws, and tongue. The dentist will look for lesions, dental cavities, and signs of oral cancer and gum diseases. They will also evaluate your bite and make comparisons with the dental x-ray. A complete mouth examination is a painless, simple process. Your dentist will use sterilized dental instruments to check your oral cavity as their assistant takes notes for future reference.
If the mouth examination reveals cavities or other oral problems, your dentist's next course of action will be to treat the issue. In case of a severe, deep-rooted infection, the dentist will first prescribe antibiotics to curb the infection before commencing with any other procedures. Sometimes, if a temporary treatment seems like the best solution, your dentist will inform you and start with it.
The severity of your dental issue determines how often your appointments will last. Some dental procedures and recurring complaints of pain call for more than one appointment to rectify the problem. It is always wise to follow the dentist's advice and return for the next appointment if they suggest one.
4 Squares Dentistry's top-notch dental services are just what you need to maintain excellent oral health. Operating from a fully-equipped dental clinic in Medavakkam, we have the best team of dental experts to help you overcome all kinds of dental issues. You can book an appointment with the best dentist in the city.
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