Bottom line: It’s all related. We need to take care of our teeth just as well as our body and mind.

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In this article, we touch upon this topic on how your dental health is closely connected to your overall health. Some of them may be shocking to you and some of them may be familiar.

We discussed in one of our previous articles about the connection between dental and some of the most common health conditions. (such as gum disease and heart health)

But wait, there is more.  Status of your body and mind can have an influence on your teeth and vice versa.  So let’s discuss further how they are related and what we can do obtain the best health possible.

Your Mouth: Window to your Overall Health

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Maintaining a healthy mouth is more than just having a bright smile. It is more of taking care of what’s inside of your mouth.

Dental professionals say that your mouth is like a window into your body’s health because it can show whether your body lacks certain nutrients of presents with signs of disease.

For instance, patients who take medications for various diseases (high blood pressure, blood thinners or corticosteroids) have side effects presented in the mouth. Patients who smoke typically presents with an increased incidence of gum disease as well as tooth decay.

Some diseases first show their symptoms as lesions in the mouth. Additionally, periodontal disease or gum disease is associated with other illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, bacterial pneumonia, and stroke. See our previous article here. 

If you have periodontal disease, it doesn’t mean you have these health problems, but there are just close relationship between them.

These conditions that can appear in the mouth can only be examined by the dental care professionals during the routine dental care.  Additionally keeping the teeth in their top shape will help with your overall health.

Your Mind and Dental Health

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Your mind also affects your dental health.  Many may never even thought that there are links; however, just our daily stress can cause havoc on your teeth without obvious signs.

Stress is one of the common causes of several health problems, and your oral health is not an exception.  One of the major side effects is teeth grinding induced by daily stress. Teeth grinding usually happens during sleep in which many people cannot control or stop.   

People who grind away their teeth due to stress would benefit greatly with night guard therapy.

See our blog about teeth grinding here.

Stress and Dental Health?

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People who are stressed tend to forget taking care of themselves and most of the times it includes dental health.

When a person is suffering from depression, anxiety, and stress, they neglect eating healthy foods and they don’t follow up on dental hygiene routine – brushing, flossing and regular checkup.  

Additionally, anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications are known to cause side effects that show up on their teeth and gums.

Some cause dry mouth and some causes overeating, especially sweets.  Some individuals turn to illegal substances which are also known to cause serious side effects on the teeth and other health issues.

Overlooked side effects on dental tissues by these medications can cause irreversible problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer.

Dr. Stella Oh believes in a holistic approach in dental care – the mind is not separate from the mouth.  

According to Dr. Oh, she often finds during routine care that many young adults with stressful jobs and family obligations have chipped teeth and TMJ pain.  

Dr. Oh is dedicated to finding what is causing the pain on teeth, gums or TMJ and helping patients overcome any side effects of anti-psychiatric or general stress.

Memory Loss and Poor Oral Health

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While the connection between tooth decay and memory loss is still not totally accepted or understood, some scientists believe that endotoxins by periodontal bacteria can increase inflammation in the body and brain—which could possibly affect brain areas related to memory.

Alzheimer’s Disease

With a rising number of Alzheimer’s patients globally, research scientists have been rigorously looking for the causes and cures to treat mental decline.   Researchers also suspected a correlation between poor oral health and any form of cognitive degeneration.

ScienceDaily team references a 2016 study by the University of Southampton and King’s College London that discovered a link between gum disease and cognitive decline in patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Researchers have been speculated that this finding stems from the body’s inflammatory response to the gum disease. One of the sources, reports the study by the University of Central Lancashire, which theorizes that having the brain repeatedly exposed to bacteria and other harmful toxins from the gums may lead to dead nerve cells and memory loss.  

In 2010, New York University, Dr. Angela Kamer illustrated the strong correlation between long-standing periodontal or gum disease and cognitive dysfunction.

Although research is ongoing to further prove this relationship between gum disease and cognitive impairment, Dr. Stella Oh believes routine cleaning every 3 months can help reduce the chance of getting gum disease.  Additionally having any form of mental decline could lead to poor oral hygiene care at home. ( If you would like further information on this topic, please click the link here.) Use of electric toothbrush and trying to set a reminder for these patients may be very helpful.

Body and Dental Health

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It’s not a surprise that condition of your mouth is closely related to your overall health and vice versa.  Following are some of the examples one the mouth-body connection. Many of us have a new year’s resolution that we want to be more fit, eat healthier and lose some weight.  These are great goals and Dr. Oh believes that meeting these goals will also improve your dental health. Below are some examples of this topic:

Dental Health and Diabetes

It is a well-known fact that there is a strong link between diabetes and gum disease. Especially uncontrolled diabetes can lead to gum disease, leading to losing teeth.  In many cases, diabetes can be well controlled or even reversed with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating whole food, low sugar diet will not only be good for your body but also for your teeth.

Being overweight and consuming processed, high sugar food will lead to uncontrolled diabetes as well as dental disease.  

Dental Health and Cardiovascular Disease

One may not know that high blood pressure or compromised cardiovascular condition would also affect teeth.  The medications that treat the cardiovascular disease can adversely affect the mouth by causing dry mouth and consequently causing tooth decay.  Normal salivary flow can minimize tooth decay and gum disease as they have antibodies and promotes elimination of the plaque.

Additionally, patients with some forms of heart murmurs or valve replacement must be cautious with a dental infection. (these patients must be premedicated with antibiotics)  Dental infection in these patients can lead to endocarditis if not treated aggressively.

Eating Healthy and Dental Health

Nutrients reach and supply so many benefits to all tissues in the body, including the mouth.  If you lack in nutrition, one of the first places to find out is your mouth. Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, a connective tissue disease that you can see in the oral cavity.  Low B vitamins also can cause various ulcers and abnormal mucosa on your tongue etc. Lack of calcium and vitamin D is known to cause thinning bone support.

If you want further pieces of information in this matter, click here.

Why Dental Visits are Important for Your Overall Health

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There are many dental health issues that can arise by not taking the time to have scheduled dental appointments and follow-up check-ups.  Many patients are not even aware of all the side effects or links associated with mind and body conditions.

To prevent things like dental caries or cavities, as well as gingivitis, it is very important to maintain a healthy mouth.  However, check up gets even more important because our doctors can evaluate what else is possibly happening in your body or mind.  

Madison Avenue Dentists Preventive Care Dentistry

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Madison Avenue Dentists are dedicated to help patients by giving a check up on their dental health, clean any tartar build-up which causes periodontal disease.  

Dr. Stella Oh and Dr. Estafan will make sure to review your physical, socio-psychological and dental health. They are all related and regular dental checkup and cleaning should be one to top priorities for you for a healthy new year!