“The mouth is a portal into the rest of the body,” according to Dr. Donald Ratcliffe, chairman of the department of dental medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.
Research is consistently showing a relationship between bacteria and inflammation in the mouth to other diseases throughout the rest of the body. Oral problems can often be symptoms of diseases and have been linked to an increase in the severity or risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, premature births, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Christopher Banks emphasizes the importance of routine dental care and the role it plays in disease prevention. A couple of visits a year to our Chevy Chase, MD dentist office can save both time and money down the road in both dental and overall health care.
Those with gum disease have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Doctors are unsure the reason of the link between the two diseases – gum disease increases inflammation in the body, which can be a risk factor for heart disease. Bacteria from the mouth can also travel in the blood stream and contribute to heart disease. Smoking, old age, and diabetes contribute to both gum disease and heart disease, which may explain their linked relationship.
Diabetes changes blood vessels and impairs blood flow. It can weaken the gums, leaving them susceptible to infection. It also increases blood sugar levels, which, if not managed properly, encourages bacteria growth in the mouth. A study found that dentists could identify patients with diabetes 73% of the time based on the condition of their teeth and gums, especially if teeth have been lost.
Hormone levels during pregnancy can cause gum infections and gum disease or inflammation in the mouth can lead to early labor and the risk of premature, low weight babies. A study found that women with gum disease are four to seven times more likely to give birth before week 37.
Practicing good oral habits and visiting Dr. Banks in Chevy Chase, MD at least twice a year is important for your mouth and other parts of the body. We work with patients who have been away from the dentist due to fear and dental anxiety, helping them to restore a healthy smile.