Ask the Dentist with Dr. Halversen: Oral Health and Overall Health

Ask the Dentist with Dr. Halversen: Oral Health and Overall Health
Ask the Dentist with Dr. Halversen: Oral Health and Overall Health

There has been more news lately about how the health of our bodies can be related to what’s happening in our mouths. Can you explain that?

 –Well, you are very observant.   We live in an era of almost daily scientific breakthroughs, bringing us new knowledge and insight into our health and longevity.   There is now significant research and data that shows the correlation between the health of our mouth (our teeth and gums) and our general systemic health.   It has never been more important to maintain dental and oral health.  I would like to review just some of the most recent findings with you.

First let’s discuss how our mouth can affect our general health. Nearly 80% of American adults have inflammation and disease in their gum tissues.  Unfortunately,  gum disease is related to many systemic diseases:

— Gum disease is linked to a greater incidence of blood vessel disease, heart attacks and stroke.

— Studies have shown that gum disease and tooth loss result in an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

–A person with diabetes AND bleeding gums increases their risk of premature death by 400 to 700 percent

–A correlation between gum disease and an increases a person’s risk for head & neck cancer, pancreatic cancer and kidney cancer has been shown in some studies

–There is a link between gum disease and chronic lung conditions like COPD which includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and occasionally asthma.

–Missing teeth can lead to digestive problems and TMJ issues


Those are some pretty scary statistics. What can we do to prevent all of these problems?

They may sound scary, but don’t panic. More than anything this information is a call to action!!  Now is the time to get our mouths healthy and keep them that way.  Here is what I suggest:

–Maintain regular check up visits. This is a must.  By  examining your teeth twice a year we can detect most problems while they are small and easy to fix.  This saves teeth and it saves money.

–Get your teeth cleaned twice a year (or more) along with your check up. Our hygienists will professionally clean your teeth and instruct you in the best ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy in between visits.   They continually monitor the health of your gum tissue and will suggest  any treatments, toothbrushes or flossing aids to help you keep your tissues healthy.

Floss your teeth every day.  Flossing is quite possibly the most important part of your daily routine.  It cleans those areas that are the most disease prone-the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.  Cleaning this area helps prevent  both gum disease and cavities.  Preventing inflammation and decay will keep your entire body more healthy.

One last note: it has been observed that for much of the American population, a dental hygienist is the health care professional that spends the most time with them each year. At our office, our hygienists see each patient twice a year for a full hour, which gives them plenty of time to review medical histories, teach specific oral hygiene techniques, and carefully monitor the health of your teeth and gum tissues.  We are concerned for the patient’s total well-being, not just their teeth.