What does your mouth say about you? Pt. 2

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We must recognize that we are not healthy without good oral health. Evidence continues to support an association between certain oral conditions and systemic health. Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to several diseases or conditions.  Understanding what your oral health may indicate of your overall health can be beneficial in helping protect yourself.

My contribution will address some of the most pressing concerns in oral health.  In the next several issues, I will highlight traditional practices and perhaps introduce new concepts to readers, as well as share what we, as medical professionals, have always known.  This particular contribution will address the risks of bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums are irritated and inflamed gingival in response to bacteria along the gum line.  Hormonal changes can affect the gums, making them more sensitive. Women may experience more sensitive gums during their pregnancy. It is advised for women who are expecting to receive a professional cleaning within their 14th and 24th week of pregnancy.

A combination of bleeding gums, dry mouth, bone loss and possibly loose teeth is moderate to severe periodontal disease. Research supports the bacteria involved with periodontal disease to have an association with heart disease, clogged arteries, and strokes. Having periodontal disease puts you at higher risk to a specific heart condition known as endocarditis where bacteria from another part of your body, i.e. your mouth, can spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart. Periodontal disease is manageable with a deep cleaning and a follow up regimen at your dentist office.

Convergence in oral and medical care is necessary to completely treat you, the patient. The health care profession recognizes the idea that our mouth and body are interconnected in more ways that we are aware of.  Dentists and physicians are collaborating to deliver a holistic approach to care in effort to be more patient-focused and efficient. This holds promise for an optimal patient-care outcome.