Dental Health-Why does it matter?
Until recent years the role or Oral health and the importance of the Mouth-Body connection has been under-appreciated even amongst health professionals. Oral Disease is one of the most common diseases we experience and it remains a significant Public health problem for many industrialised countries where expenditure on treatment often exceeds that for other diseases including Cancer, Heart disease, Stroke and Dementia!! In spite of recent advances in Prevention, in Ireland, we still have approximately 42% of 5 year olds, 50% of 12 year olds and 75% of 15 year olds all having experience of Dental Caries.
The vital role it plays in our daily lives, in terms of eating, speaking, smiling and socialising, is often overlooked but it is impossible to separate oral from general health!
I believe it is critical to appreciate that our behaviours that cause general disease are also tightly linked to oral disease.
Consider High Sugar intake (linked to Obesity, Cardiac Disease, Diabetes)…
Consider Smoking (linked to Cardiovascular Disease, Respiratory disease and Cancer)
Consider Nutritional Deficiencies (linked to Ulceration, Bowel disease, Osteoporosis)..
All of these conditions are related to Oral consumption and evidence of excess can easily be detected by a Dentist during a Dental Examination of the mouth!
-High Sugar causes decay.
-Excessive smoking is strongly related to Gum disease.
– Nutritional deficiencies can manifest as ulceration, inflammation and soft tissue changes.
All major Chronic conditions are mediated by inflammation and the mouth is a particularly harsh environment with bacteria, acids, chemicals, and wear/tear present on a daily basis. Most things that enter our body do so through the mouth so we need it to be healthy and robust to deal with the harsh abuse it receives as well as being an early indicator that there is a surplus of toxins, sugars, chemicals in our bodies. Remember, the presence of many compounds (e.g. Alcohol, nicotine, opiates, drugs, hormones antibodies and environmental toxins) in the body can be detected in the saliva !