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What medical conditions are associated with dental health?
Updated: 5/28/2013 11:15:07 AM
 

What medical conditions are associated with dental health?

By now, most people should understand that there is a connection between dental health and overall well-being. However, there may still be some individuals out there who think that if they skip appointments to the dentist or slack off on their dental care routine, the only part of their body that is affected is their mouth. These people may find themselves experiencing a host of medical problems that could have potentially been avoided if they had appreciated the connection between their teeth and the rest of their body. 

Recently, News Medical compiled a list of some of the many studies that have been conducted that revealed an association between the health of the teeth and certain medical conditions. As the news source pointed out, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, and people need to keep that in mind. 

Diabetes - The news source pointed out that studies have shown that there may be a connection between diabetes and dental health. According to the American Diabetes Association, research has suggested that not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to dental health problems, but individuals with serious gum disease may experience problems controlling their blood glucose levels. This may speed up the progression of diabetes, which is why people who already have a high risk diabetes - such as those who are obese - should be sure to take good care of their teeth. 

Dementia - News Medical spoke to Marc Liechtung, D.M.D., who explained that studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's seem to have more gum disease-related bacteria present in their brain than those without the disease. According to the dentist, it is thought that bacteria from the mouth may be able to increase inflammation in the brain and cause brain damage. 

Erectile dysfunction - A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that men with ED are three times more likely to have gum disease than those who do not have this sexual function issue. 

"Gum disease is marked by bleeding of the gums and bone structure of teeth, and if left untreated, can cause tooth decay and tooth loss as immune cells launch an all-out attack on pathogens in the mouth," Liechtung explained to News Medical. The dentist added that this bacteria may enter the bloodstream and damage blood vessels, potentially impairing blood flow to the penis. 

Endocarditis - This condition is an infection in the inner lining of the heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can occur when bacteria from other parts of the body - like the mouth - enter the bloodstream and affect the heart. People who have a family history of heart disease or have experienced cardiovascular problems throughout their life should talk to their doctor and dentist about the importance of caring for their teeth to help protect their heart. 

Anemia - While this condition may not be caused by dental health issues, if people visit the dentist regularly, he or she can help diagnose this condition so they can seek out treatment. 

"Your dentist will look for a pale-colored tongue as an indication of iron deficiency or anemia that affects one in five women," Liechtung told News Medical. 

Luckily, there are simple ways that people can make sure that their dental health is in check and reduce their risk of bacteria in the mouth wreaking havoc on the rest of their body. Brushing twice a day, flossing once daily and visiting the dentist twice a year all go a long way to ensuring a healthy mouth and body. 

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