The saying goes ‘the mouth is the window to the body’ and when we’re talking about taking care of our teeth, this couldn’t be truer.
So what comes to mind here? Yellow teeth? How about missing teeth? Or perhaps breath that even air freshener couldn’t mask?
These may be extreme but the point is this – the repercussions of poor oral health don’t just stop at the mouth.
You wouldn’t ignore bleeding to any part of your body but many people ignore bleeding gums. It’s one of the first and most obvious signs of gum disease, which if left untreated, can cause a whole range of problems. By visiting a dentist as often as they recommend, we can help to nip these things in the bud.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding how the health of our mouth can affect our general health.
Could the health of my mouth affect my general health?
Yes. There are new findings which support something that dental professionals have suspected for a long time: infections in the mouth can cause problems in other parts of the body.
What problems could poor dental health cause?
Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor dental health include:
- Heart Disease
- Giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby
- Respiratory (lung) disease
What are the tell-tale signs of gum disease that I should look out for?
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease. These can include:
- Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Regular mouth infections
Do I need to tell the dentist about changes to my general health?
Always tell your dentist about any changes to your general health. It is especially important to tell them if you are pregnant or have heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or have ever had a stroke. You also need to tell them about any medicines you are taking as these can affect both your treatment and the health of your mouth.
Does gum disease run in families?
Although there is some evidence that gum disease runs in families, the main cause is the plaque that forms on the surface of your teeth. To prevent gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day by brushing and cleaning in between your teeth.
How can I prevent gum disease from getting worse?
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any scale or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
They will also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria which forms on the teeth every day.
Gum disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home-care you have been taught you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, as often as they recommend.
Can smoking affect my teeth and gums?
Smoking can make gum disease much worse. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking means you have less oxygen in your bloodstream, so the infected gums do not heal. Smoking can also lead to tooth staining, tooth loss because of gum disease, bad breath, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.