3 ways dental health ties to your overall health

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but there’s another part of your body which gives signals: your mouth. A healthy mouth can both impact the health of other parts of your body and be a predictor of upcoming health problems. Three of the strongest connections are with heart disease, arthritis, and premature births.

Your Gums and Heart Disease 

Science has found that people with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of heart disease. Some doctors believe this is because the bacteria which grows in mouths with gum disease releases harmful toxins which form plaque in the arteries. Another opinion is that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease or gingivitis causes other organs to increase production of proteins which can cause inflammation. It’s important to monitor your oral health for symptoms of periodontal diseases and to visit your primary care physician regularly to check on your heart health. 

Gum Health and Arthritis 

The connection of periodontal health and joint health is interesting because they can both be seen as a symptom and a predictor. Doctors have found that individuals with periodontal disease are at a higher risk to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis and individuals who have Rheumatoid Arthritis but do not have periodontal issues often acquire them after onset. One reason for the connection is that the environment for the gums and joints are similar in construction and therefore affected by the factors causing inflammation in similar ways. According to an expert on the topic, Dr. Richard Nagelberg,“The immunological and pathological processes occurring in periodontitis and RA are nearly identical. Both conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation in a soft-tissue site adjacent to bone.” One good thing is that treating one of the conditions often has an ancillary positive effect of improving the other. 

Premature Births 

Perhaps the most surprising of relationships is the connection between advanced gum disease and premature child delivery. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that as many as 18% of preterm births can be attributed to poor oral conditions. The American Academy of Periodontology explains that the inflammation of the gums triggers the production of chemicals which signal the body to go into labor. Toxins in the bacteria of the periodontal disease can also affect the baby’s growth leading to low birth weight. Women intending to become pregnant should pay attention to their oral health as well as those currently pregnant should schedule routine periodontal exams with their dentist.