Oral-Systemic Health

If dentists scare me, why would I care about oral-systemic health?

As a sedation dentist in Back Mountain, PA, Dr. DeFinnis has helped many fearful dental patients overcome their apprehension and receive much-needed dental work. After restoring oral health, Dr. DeFinnis helps his patients reduce their risk for serious oral and overall health problems. Preventive measures reduce the risk for needing more dental work or suffering serious systemic health complications in the future. You should be aware of the oral-systemic health link, because a few healthy habits could improve your quality of life for decades to come.

What is oral-systemic health?

Research has revealed a close link between oral and overall health. While gum disease is the most prevalent concern, there are many connections between the mouth and the body. Your mouth allows you to fuel your body with food, hydrate it with water, and heal it with medications or herbs. Your mouth is a portal to your body. It makes sense, then, that your mouth can also feed your body bad things, like too much alcohol, carcinogens, and bacteria.

In the human mouth, there are conservatively 600 different types of bacteria – some good, some bad. The bad bacteria cause halitosis, tooth decay, and gum disease. They can also enter the blood stream to negatively impact systemic health. Your vital organs include the heart, brain, and lungs. Each of these organs can be indirectly harmed by gum disease and oral bacteria.

What kind of systemic health problems are linked to oral bacteria?

Gum disease, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects up to 80% of Americans, increases risk for heart disease and heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.

S. mutans, the bacteria that cause cavities and contribute to gum disease, are the leading cause of endocarditis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the heart valve walls.

Studies continue to reveal connections between oral and overall health problems, and we will probably learn much more over the next few years. For now, however, you can take precautions to reduce your risks.

How do I avoid oral-health-related systemic problems?

The best way to improve your chance for avoiding serious dental problems and related health problems is to do what you already know: brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit Dr. DeFinnis every six months for a preventive dental checkup and cleaning. In addition, you can add a tongue scraper to your home oral care arsenal. A great number of oral bacteria gather on the back surface of the tongue. Using a tongue scraper to gently remove the bacteria can be helpful. Also, an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine will kill bad bacteria in your mouth.

Be aware that if you notice problems, you should call Back Mountain Dental immediately. Common concerns include red, swollen, tender gums; gums that bleed when brushing teeth; sores in the mouth that don’t heal after 14 days;  a toothache, jaw pain, or hard spots in soft tissues of the mouth.

Call Back Mountain Dental today at 570-763-4360 to talk with Dr. DeFinnis about your oral health and your dental fears. With IV sedation dentistry, he can put all of your fears to rest and give you a healthy, beautiful smile. Located in Back Mountain, our sedation dentistry office serves patients from across Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

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