That’s because the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria – most of which are harmless – and which normally are kept under control with the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care such as brushing and flossing. However, when the mouth is not taken care of, harmful bacteria can multiply, causing oral infections such as tooth decay and gum disease.
“It’s also important to realize that some dental procedures, medications, and treatments that reduce saliva flow, disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth or breach the mouth's normal protective barriers, can make it easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream,”
According to Dr. Loftus, many common health conditions are linked to oral health – meaning oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases and conditions.
• Endocarditis. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut the gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
“If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, the harmful bacteria in your mouth can cause infection in other parts of your body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis)
• Cardiovascular disease. According to Mayo Clinic, heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to chronic inflammation from periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease.
• Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, according to Mayo Clinic.
• Diabetes. Diabetes renders the body less resistant to infection — putting the gums at risk.
“People who struggle with controlling blood sugar may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have normal blood sugar,” said Loftus.
• HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
• Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
• Alzheimer's disease. According to Mayo Clinic, tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
• Other conditions. Other conditions that may be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder — and eating disorders.
“Be sure to tell your dentist if you're taking any medications or have had any major medical changes in your life— especially if you've had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition. This is vital for ensuring the safety of your overall health,” urged Loftus.
To protect your oral health and your overall health, Loftus recommends practicing good oral hygiene daily. This includes brushing teeth at least twice a day; flossing daily; replacing toothbrushes every three to four months; and scheduling regular dental checkups with cleanings and X-rays once every six months.
For more information about routine oral hygiene available at Loftus Dental, visit http://www.loftusdental.com/
“Also remember to eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacking. A healthy diet is very conducive to good oral health and overall health,” said Loftus. “Always remember that taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.”
About Loftus Dental
For 34 years, Loftus Dental has focused on anxiety-free dentistry, offering a range of dental treatments for the entire family. Loftus Dental provides modern restorative techniques for fillings, orthodontic care, implants, sealants, root canals, gum disease treatment, cosmetic changes, crowns and bridges. Loftus Dental also offers laser periodontal therapy, sleep disorders dentistry and head/neck pain management. Loftus Dental has two convenient locations with offices in Rapid City and Sturgis. Dr. Ron Loftus and Dr. Jeff Loftus serve the Rapid City office, and Dr. T.J. Loftus serves the Sturgis location. Visit Loftus Dental online at http://www.loftusdental.com/