I'm a dentist – here's 5 things your mouth says about you (and when to see a doctor sharpish)04/25/2022
KEEPING your oral health in good condition is a key part of any hygiene routine.
But scrimping on the brushing and not fitting in flossing can have dire consequences, one expert has said.
Dr Azad Eyrumlu, dentist at Banning Dental Group said not keeping your mouth clean is known to lead to a wide range of issues such as gum disease and cavities.
However, it's not just your mouth that might suffer and Dr Eyrumlu said serious illnesses can all come from a lack of dental care.
“Our bodies are complex and various parts of our systems work closely with each other, even if we might not always realise it.
“For example, a mouth ulcer or impacted tooth can give nasty bacteria the perfect window to enter our bloodstreams, thus causing more problems down the line.
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“It’s vital we all keep a close eye on our oral health and be on alert for the signs that something could be wrong.
“If you notice something that you might be concerned about, it’s recommended that you seek medical help as soon as possible", Dr Eyrumlu explained.
He highlighted the five serious health conditions that can stem from poor oral hygiene.
1. Heart issues
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People with poor oral health have been shown to have higher rates of cardiovascular illnesses such as heart attacks or strokes, studies have shown.
Dr Eyrumlu said there are two conditions connected to oral health.
"Atherosclerosis where a build-up of fatty ‘plaque’ thickens the artery walls and reduces blood flow, and Endocarditis, when an infection in the gums can pass into the bloodstream potentially infecting the inner lining of the heart.
"Some bacteria carry proteins that promote clots that can clog arteries, leaving the heart at risk of an attack.
"Meanwhile, it can also clog the carotid artery that circulates blood to the head and brain, leaving us vulnerable to a stroke", he said.
2. Respiratory problems
We all know we need to change our toothbrush head on a regular basis, but it can be easy to forget.
It's key to do this as bacteria builds up on the brush head.
This bacteria, if nasty, can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it can aggravate our respiratory systems and affect our ability to breathe.
"Some studies have even pointed to a link between gum disease and pneumonia and bronchitis.
"Maintaining consistent oral hygiene routines will help keep bacteria and plaque under control so that they are unable to spread into the respiratory system", Dr Eyrumlu said.
When to see a doctor
Most of the time, issues with your mouth can be treated with over the counter remedies.
If it's an emergency and you're in lots of pain then you should see your dentist and this could be through an emergency appointment.
The NHS says that there are several reasons you should seek help:
- if you have had toothache for two days that doesn't go away with pain killers
- high temperature
- pain when you bite
- red gums
- bad taste in your mouth
- cheek or jaw is swollen
These issues could occur due to:
- tooth decay
- dental abscess
- cracked or damaged teeth
- loose or broken filling
- issues with braces
You might think a gum infection is a milder illness, but Dr Eyrumlu said it can actually cause sepsis.
The condition occurs when the body reacts aggressively to an infection and damages its own tissue.
"It can arise from untreated infections in the gum and can result in organ failure, blood poisoning, amputations and even death.
"If an infection reaches the point of a swollen infected mass, it’s essential that you seek emergency attention to avoid the worst possible case scenario", he explained.
Several health issues have previously been linked to dementia such as gingivitis, tooth loss and dental cavities.
Infections in the gum can release inflammatory substances that can aggravate the brain and lead to brain cell loss, Dr Eyrumlu said.
5. Digestive issues
It's not surprising that digestive issues can occur from poor oral hygiene as food passes through our mouth first before it reaches the digestive tract.
Both our teeth and saliva play a crucial role in breaking our food down.
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Dr Eyrumlu added: "If for any reason your teeth are not able to break the food down into management morsels, the stomach and intestines are going to be under greater pressure to digest and process the nutrients that are required for the body."
It’s recommended we see our dentists every six months to make sure our oral hygiene is in good shape and to keep track of any developing problems.
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