Mouth-Body Health: Gateway to Your Best Health
Regular Dental Check-Ups is an Essential Part of Whole Body Health
For the last decade or two, people have become increasingly obsessed with eating healthier, working out more, and living healthier lives. The wide availability of health information on the internet allows people to be more educated in health, and has created a trend where people are more conscious of their diets, are increasing physical activity, and decreasing alcohol and tobacco use. While many people are focused on their physical health in the form of regularly going to the gym, and their overall health by maintaining regular doctor visits, regularly visiting dentists often gets overlooked. According to the CDC in 2015, about 84% of adults had visited their doctor within the past year, while only a little over 60% of adults had visited dentists within the past year.
Many people don’t consider dental check-ups as a critical part of healthcare. They only feel that visits are important when something critical occurs such as cavities, root canals, etc. A big part of this was the decline in private health insurance over the past decade. Many adults who don’t have private health insurance can’t afford to go to dentists, so they only go in the case of extreme emergencies. Out of the adults who have private health insurance, about 25% of them have such high deductibles that they could be considered as uninsured because they can’t afford the out of the pocket expense. Aside from cost and insurance barriers, another major reason that people haven’t visited dentists lately is that they simply felt that it wasn’t necessary. According to the report, about 30% of adults feel that their mouths are healthy enough that they don’t need to visit dentists. This “lack of necessity” trend was strongest among younger adults.
Oral Diseases can Cause Problems in the Body
Many people don’t realize that dental health is just as important as the health of any other part of the body. According to Dr. Hossein Javid, a dentist with an office called “Doctor Smile” in El Segundo, California, poor oral health can lead to systemic problems. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. Although it isn’t pleasant to think about, bacteria and germs enter people’s mouths and throats every day. Breathing in air through the nose also introduces bacteria to the throat and mouth. Human bodies generally have strong immune systems to fight these invaders, but regular dental checkups are important to make sure the body is properly fighting the germs off to prevent oral diseases. Many people wait until they have an oral disease to visit the dentist, rather than having regular check-ups to prevent them in the first place. Even more alarming is the fact that many people don’t take care of the oral disease right away because they don’t know how much an oral disease can affect their entire body. Although oral diseases generally occur in the mouth, if left untreated the diseases can spread down through the body and cause other complications. Here are a few examples of oral diseases that affect the entire body:
PERIODONTAL DISEASE, ALSO KNOWN AS GUM DISEASE
Chronic periodontal disease affects over 47% of adults over the age of 30 in the United States. This disease is caused by chronic infection due to poor oral hygiene. The early stages of this disease are called gingivitis. Many people, unfortunately, don’t take care of the disease at this early stage and it becomes worse. Symptoms include bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and gums that have pulled away from the teeth. It can destroy the jawbone and cause adults to lose permanent teeth. The disease causes the gums to swell, which then allows plaque and bacteria to enter into the pockets between the gums and teeth. If the condition isn’t taken care of in a timely manner, the bacteria can then enter the bloodstream and circulate through the body, causing other conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and stroke. Many times there aren’t any symptoms of periodontal disease which is why it is important to maintain regular dental check-ups.
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DISORDER (TMD)
The temporomandibular joint is like a hinge that connects the jawbone to the mouth. A disorder in this joint can cause the jaw bone to move out of place due to any number of reasons that can include jaw injury, arthritis, or genetics. Symptoms of this disorder can include a clicking noise when opening the mouth, aching or pain in the ear, face, neck, or jaw, jaws that get stuck in the open or closed position, swelling in your face, and more. In most instances, this disorder can be treated with simple remedies, but in some cases, surgery may be required. In extreme cases this disorder causes the trigeminal nerve, located in the face, to release calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Untreated, this peptide can cause chronic pain in the neck and back, and can even lead to tilted spine syndrome.
There are many types of oral cancers, and they can affect any part of the oral region including the top and bottom of the mouth, the tongue, the throat, lips, and cheeks. Oral cancers are life-threatening if not treated early. Often times oral cancer can appear in a way that may not look serious like a bump, bruise, discoloration, or rash. The best way to be sure that it isn’t something serious is through regular dental checkups, however, there are symptoms that can occur along with the visible symptoms that should immediately be taken seriously. If the bump, bruise, rash, or discoloration is accompanied by any of these symptoms below, it is important to visit a dentist immediately:
A velvety rash that is red, white, or multi-colored
Unexplained numbness or pain in the ear, face, neck, mouth, or throat
Unexplained rapid weight loss
A feeling of something being stuck in the throat or mouth
Hoarseness, sore throat, or a change in the sound of the voice
Sores on the mouth or face that don’t go away within a couple of weeks
The jaw, mouth, or dentures suddenly don’t fit together properly
Oral Symptoms Can Indicate Body Conditions
Just like diseases can occur in your mouth that affect your body, there are symptoms that can occur in your mouth that can indicate diseases in your body. Many times these symptoms may not seem serious, or may not seem like anything to worry about. This is another reason why it is important to get regular dental checkups because dentists are able to determine if the symptoms are serious and will notice any changes from the last time you had a checkup. Here are some symptoms that occur in the mouth that can indicate a disease or condition in the body:
RECURRING ORAL INFECTIONS
One indication of diabetes is a recurring infection in the mouth from bacteria and yeast. Diabetes causes saliva to have higher sugar levels, which encourages bacteria to grow. The extra bacteria can lead to periodontal disease which, as explained earlier, can lead to other conditions in the body.
ORAL HAIRY LEUKOPLAKIA
This is a disease of the mucosa (a membrane that covers certain internal organs in the body). It is characterized by a white, hairy growth on the tongue that, in most cases, can indicate the presence of the HIV/AIDS virus. It is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a herpes virus that is estimated to have infected at least 90% of the world’s population. In order to turn into Oral Hairy Leukoplakia, a number of factors have to converge together.
BURNING MOUTH SYNDROME
This is a condition where the lips, tongue, and cheeks feel hot or a burning sensation. The syndrome varies greatly. It can last all day, or it can come and go. It can affect all areas of the mouth or only some areas. Other symptoms besides the burning sensation could be a metallic taste in the mouth, dry mouth with increased thirst or loss of taste. There are two different versions of Burning Mouth Syndrome–primary and secondary. The primary type is when no clinical abnormalities can be detected. The secondary type is when it is caused by an underlying disease or condition. There are certain oral conditions that can cause Secondary Burning Mouth Sensation such as side effects from medicine or geographic tongue, but a disease of the body can also be the cause. Some of these are hypothyroidism, acid reflux, or allergic reactions.
Oral health can directly affect the health of your entire body. Keeping a healthy mouth will prevent an overflow of bacteria and germs from entering the bloodstream. It can also indicate any underlying diseases, conditions, or disorders that a person may not be aware of. Getting regular check-ups with reputable dentists like Hossein Javid from “Doctor Smile” in El Segundo, California in conjunction with check-ups from your other doctors is the best way to maintain whole body health.
OTHER RELATED LINKS
Five Reasons To Go To The Dentist Every Six Months
The Mouth-Body Connection
ABOUT THE OFFICE
Dr. Smile is in the Los Angeles South Bay area, serving patients from El Segundo, Inglewood, Del Air, those around the LAX airport, and nearby areas. Dr. Hossein Javid is the lead dentist at this office. Dr. Javid has spent his career developing expertise in a number of areas, including dental implantation and the use of high-tech lasers and other equipment. He is the founder of our dental center, and his vision has helped us become a premier provider of world-class dental services.