Oral Disease and General Health
The medical community is making significant changes to the foundations of their cause-effect philosophy regarding “total health”. Chances are that you’ve already heard about this new approach because they are usually trending news stories. Almost every week there seems to be a new “discovery”: People who eat fruit seem to be happier, daily exercise seems to prevent diabetes, having sex twice a week seems to increase your life-span, etc.
Finally, our doctors are addressing serious issues by examining what underlying natural causes could be contributing to them. Dentistry is at the forefront of this movement. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: “Diagnostic tests using oral cells and fluids—especially saliva—are available to detect drug abuse, hormonal changes, and specific diseases; and more are being developed.” It seems that the mouth is a “window to our general health”. Meaning, many serious health concerns begin to show themselves in the mouth first, making your dentist’s office the front line in the battle for longevity, vitality, and total health.
So, what are the links between oral disease and general health?
Firstly, what makes the mouth such a good indicator for diseases that (seemingly) have nothing to with dental care? It is being confirmed that many health concerns begin with dietary issues: nutritional deficits, too many fats and sugars, etc. Not only is the mouth the common portal for all of our nutrition, but it is also the first part of your body where foreign bacteria accumulate; so it actually makes perfect sense that the mouth would be the first place affected by an irregular diet or a bacterial infection. However those aren’t the only type of illness’s that can be detected by your dentist.
It is the goal of this article to give you a few topics to bring up the next time you visit your dentist. By consulting with your general dental professional, early detection for potentially life threatening conditions is much easier. Here are a few major issues that your dentist can (usually) detect before your general practitioner:
- Certain Cancers:
One thing that most forms of cancer have in common is that they want to spread. The easiest way for them to do that, is by invading surrounding tissue as well as your glands. Because of this, many dentists have added informal cancer screenings into their usual checkups. By inspecting the face, lips, salivary glands in the mouth, as well as the thyroid and lymph node glands by feeling your neck, dentists can identify if you have any abnormalities. Abnormalities are bad.
- Diabetes, Heart and Kidney Disease, and Strokes:
These illnesses may seem like strange bed-fellows, but many of these conditions can be detected early because of the apparent link between them and periodontal disease. In short, if you have serious oral issues, there is a good chance that one of these diseases could be to blame. So, if you keep your teeth clean, have a healthy diet, and you are still seeing a thinning gum-line and bad breath, ask your doctor about testing for the illnesses above.
According to WebMD.com, periodontitis develops more quickly in individuals with higher body fat.
- HIV/AIDS, Other Autoimmune Diseases:
Many diseases that alter your immune system response (like HIV or Rheumatoid Arthritis) become evident in the mouth first because they leave the patient unable to fight off infection. The most common kinds of infections occur in the mouth and sinus cavity; therefore, inexplicable oral diseases are a good indicator for such conditions.
If any of these illnesses worry you, we recommend addressing your concerns with your dentist AS WELL AS your primary general practicing doctor. Doctor Ronald Schefdore is uniquely qualified to provide you with the services mentioned above, as he was one of the founding fathers of the oral-systemic connection. Read this: Dr. Ronald Schefdore in the news for cancer and diabetes screening.