If dentists have done their job, you completely understand the tooth-related benefits of a regular dental cleaning in West Edmonton. You know that brushing and flossing will prevent tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. You know that you’ll save a lot of money, time, anxiety and future dental work by attending regular dental check ups regularly and by getting all recommended dental treatment. But what about the bigger picture? Is there any connection between your oral health and the rest of your body?

The accumulation of harmful bacteria in your mouth can lead to serious infections that affect your teeth (we call it tooth decay) and your gums (we call it periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis). Your mouth is part of a body-wide system linked and nourished by the flow of blood throughout your body, though. Serious infections in your mouth — affecting you teeth or gums or both — can spread beyond your mouth via your bloodstream and cause other health issues. Those issues include:

Endocarditis

Oral bacteria in your bloodstream may eventually reach your heart, where they can cause an infection called endocarditis that causes inflammation in the lining of your heart’s chambers. While endocarditis is a rare condition, it is potentially life-threatening. Patients who have been advised that they are at an extremely high risk of developing endocarditis should discuss that before receiving treatment from any dentist near you. It may in some circumstances be appropriate to take antibiotics prior to dental procedures or surgery.

Heart attacks and strokes

Oral bacteria that enter your bloodstream and spread throughout your body can cause inflammation in your arteries. Arterial inflammation can contribute to the creation of blockages in your arteries that, in turn, increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Oral bacteria commonly found in your mouth have, in some studies, regularly been found in the brains of people who have suffered a stroke.

Pregnancy complications

Severe periodontal disease — gum disease — permits the spread of bacteria throughout a pregnant woman’s body, including into her placenta. Harmful bacteria in a mother’s placenta can interfere with the growth and development of her fetus. Severe gum disease has been associated with an increased risk of early labour, premature births and babies born with low birth weight. Ironically, normal hormonal changes during pregnancy also increase the risk of developing gingivitis. For this and other reasons — including managing the risk of x-rays — be sure to tell your dentist in West Edmonton if you are pregnant so they can focus on risk factors related to your health that are unique to you.

Diabetes

There is a well-understood connection between the health of your gums and diabetes. On the one hand, diabetes is a significant risk factor for the development of gum disease. On the other hand, severe gum disease also makes an existing diabetic condition much more serious by interfering with the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels by increasing your resistance to the absorption of insulin. All in all, severe gum disease makes it much harder for people with diabetes to bring that condition under control. Improperly managed diabetes contributes to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and even sexual function.

Your dentist is a specialist who focuses on the health of your mouth, teeth and gums, but not at the expense of the rest of your body and general health that relies on your oral well-being. Be sure that your dentist always has a complete understanding of your general health and medical history so that they can consider your holistic well-being while developing dental treatment plans and hygiene regimens. Better health may be as easy as undergoing a regular dental cleaning near you.