Naturally, more studies are needed, but it’s interesting to note that academics are starting to question well-established thinking on what causes certain conditions. For example, the latest studies are now considering the role that inflammation plays in coronary heart disease, which was previously thought to be due to high cholesterol.
Start thinking of your oral health as part of your overall health
Recent research from YouGov on behalf of Denplan showed that 82% of UK adults agree that poor oral health can have a significant impact on your overall general health*.
“With studies increasingly showing links between the health of our mouths and the health of our bodies, it would be ideal for all patients to start thinking about their oral health in a wider sense, being part of their whole system, and how any diseases or infections in their mouths might affect the rest of their body,” says Henry Clover, Deputy Chief Dental Officer at Denplan.
“It’s always important to let your dentist know if you have, or if you have had any serious health conditions. Your dentist can tailor your dental care and recommend an oral health routine to best suit your individual needs in relation to any conditions you may have. Diabetics, for example, may find they suffer more from oral health issues such as dry mouth, gum disease, and mouth infections – all of which can be managed with the help of your dental practice team.”
What can you do to keep your mouth healthy?
- Visit your dentist as often as they recommend – this can help to spot any problems early on
- Follow a thorough brushing routine, ensuring you brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. This should ideally be the last thing at night and on one other occasion that day
- Ensure you clean between your teeth daily to remove bacteria that brushing can’t reach. This is very important to reduce your chances of gum disease. You can use floss or interdental brushes – whatever you find easiest and most effective (be guided here by your dental team)
- Cut back on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and eat a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables
How dental professionals can help
Dentists can help to diagnose gum disease and can also help patients to take measures to treat the condition and prevent it from re-occurring. What’s more, while routine dental checks cannot diagnose a systemic disease, such as heart disease, they can help patients to be aware of their risk of developing inflammation in the body so that, if necessary, they can seek medical guidance and take preventive action.
Although still in its infancy, some private dental practices are even starting to offer additional health checks to patients such as weight monitoring, blood pressure, diabetes checks, and cholesterol levels. This value-added service supports the message of oral health linking to overall health and provides patients with valuable insights into their general wellbeing, especially if they find it more convenient to visit their dentist on a more regular basis than their GP.
Published: April 19th, 2016
* Denplan/YouGov Survey January 2016. Online survey of 5,152 UK adults.