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Comprehensive Health

by Adriana Jaramillo DDS & Carlos A Jaramillo IV

Advances in dentistry and medicine have lead to a greater understanding of the connection between oral and general health. For some conditions, the first signs of disease appear in the mouth. Yet in others, the disease begins in the mouth.

One example, gum disease, is caused by bacteria normally present in the mouth. In a healthy person, bacteria is kept under control with good oral hygiene and eating habits, and regular visits to the dentist. What may begin as poor oral care or disease elsewhere in the body can lead to plaque, tartar and periodontal disease in the mouth.

Those with gum disease have also been shown to be at a higher risk for heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke. Some studies have suggested that gum disease may be a greater risk factor for heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, gender and age.

Periodontal disease may also affect a pregnancy. Disease causing organisms that are present in the mouth can enter the placenta or amniotic fluid causing premature birth. Because the bacteria may already be in the blood stream, it is important to address periodontal disease before becoming pregnant.

Diabetes, another important disease with systemic implications, increases the risk for oral health problems that include gum disease, cavities and dry mouth. Good oral health helps manage and control diabetes. With regular care your dentist may also spot early signs of diabetes or manage your disease.

The mouth is a sensitive system. It can betray early symptoms and warning signs of problems elsewhere. More than 90% of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations. Osteoporosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, cancer, kidney disease, eating disorders, blood disorders and substance abuse are among the health concerns which may be detected through your oral care. Regular dental visits are more than just cleanings and fillings, they are an important part of maintaining your overall health.

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