Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body: The Link Between Them May Surprise You
Are these oral health facts surprising?
People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, making it difficult to stabilize blood sugar levels
A pregnant woman’s oral health can impact the health of her baby
These facts are examples of how oral health and overall health are interconnected. This relationship is called the mouth-body connection and science is giving it a lot of attention.
We know that bacteria in the mouth – most of which is harmless – can reach levels that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. However, there’s also evidence that these bacteria can migrate to the bloodstream and react with the body’s defense system. This can cause harmful effects throughout the whole body, like increased blood sugar levels – particularly concerning for a person with diabetes.
The same bacteria may attach to damaged areas of the heart, causing endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. And other studies have linked the presence of gum disease among pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight babies.
Preventive dental exams help you maintain a healthy mouth and can identify concerns like these early, before they become more challenging to treat. Our brand purpose to revolutionize oral health for everyone by redefining prevention and care is based in large part on the scientific evidence of just that.
The only way to effectively address the mouth-body connection is for providers of all kinds to coordinate and care for you holistically. It’s why we launched a preventive care challenge with our employees – to encourage everyone to get the care they need to take care of their teeth. It’s why we partner with health plans around the country to develop ways to integrate medical and dental care. And it’s why we’ve developed provider training and other education – so more people can understand how the medical-dental connection can enhance and improve care delivery.
Provider or not, you can join the movement, too. Talk to your providers about all of your health concerns. Ask your providers to communicate about your treatment plans with each other. And, as you think about preventive dental care, remember that health starts in the mouth!