Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can your oral health affect your overall health?"
I don't go to the dentist really, but I do take care of my teeth with brushing and flossing. Is it important to go the dentist even if my teeth seem okay? Can bad oral health lead to bad overall health, like are the two connected?
Recent evidence over the last several years has indicated that in fact oral and dental health can have a much bigger overall health effect than was previously appreciated. With regard to your dental/oral health, we do know that regular dental follow-up is an important part of preserving the health of your teeth and gums. Regular flossing and brushing at home is an excellent start, but the exams from the dentist and the more thorough cleaning available in a dental office is also needed for optimal teeth and gum health. In addition, it is also possible for poor dentition or poor oral health to have more widespread systemic effects, and similarly, medications or systemic health concerns can also have negative effects on oral health. For example, many medications have dry mouth as a side effect--it is important to manage this symptom to avoid developing cavities. In addition, systemic diseases including cancers, autoimmune disease, or some infections can have their first symptoms in the mouth. Your dentist will be looking for these things during regular exams so that if necessary you can be referred back to your medical doctor. Overall, it sounds like you are taking excellent care of your mouth and teeth at home, and the best way to continue that is to include regular exams with your dentist.
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