Oral Health Pertains to Overall Health
As people age, they have more of a tendency to let certain things fall by the wayside. Teeth and gums seem like a small piece of the pie when it comes to health issues, so if you are a caregiver and bringing your relative or patient to the doctor frequently, but ignoring their visits to the dentist, this could be detrimental to their health. Some caregivers also forget to help with the teeth brushing regiment, which seems less urgent than reminding the patient to take their prescription medications on time. Once again, this must be part of the picture of overall health.
Here is why…
Just within the past decade, the newer studies and research of the correlation between gum disease and overall health has been very eye-opening. The mouth is actually a gateway to infection, since it is the point at which food and beverages are consumed. Therefore, it is more likely to get bacteria, which can lead to inflammation or infection. As the chemicals eat away at the bones and gums which hold a person’s teeth in place, they may develop periodontis (gum disease), which is also critical to the health of the rest of a person’s body.
For starters, there is a direct link between gum disease and heart disease. Over 90% of all patients who get heart disease also have gum disease. Part of this could be caused by having an unhealthy diet or being overweight, which naturally starts with what people put into their mouths. It should be a given that eating foods high in sugar will not be good for your teeth, but this can then lead to the inflammation issues and subsequent heart disease.
Diabetics with gum disease also should be very careful, because the inflammation of the gums can also inhibit the body’s ability to process insulin. This can be deadly for a patient who has periodontis and diabetes. The high blood sugar makes for an ideal place for infections to thrive. Diabetic patients should be especially diligent about preserving good oral health.
Osteoperosis is another concern, because having gum disease can also lead to bone loss. Research has shown that patients with osteoperosis often also suffer from periodontis.
Other conditions, such as pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac or lung problems can often be linked to – you guessed it – gum disease. Pregnant women who have periodontis often have miscarriages or early births, although the studies are still underway as to the relationship between gum disease and pregnancy issues. Presumably, the bacteria and inflammation from poor oral hygiene must affect the fetus.
For these reasons and many more, it should be very eye-opening why everyone should want to maintain good oral health, as it affects many other areas of one’s overall wellness. If you are a caregiver, you should also remember to make the teeth brushing and flossing a ritual for your patient in the morning and at night.
Also, February is a good time to acknowledge National Children’s Dental Month, although people of any age can benefit from good dental health.
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Summer Stevenson has worked for CARE INC as a Personal Care Assistant since 1995. Here is her story about pursuing a career of helping others.