What Your Mouth May be Telling You

When you go for your routine dental exam, your dentist checks for more than just cavities. That’s because your mouth can indicate problems in the rest of your body. From your heart and lungs to your immune system, be aware of the following health conditions that can be linked to gum disease.

• High blood pressure may raise your risk of developing gum disease. You may be more likely to have bleeding gums. Medications for high blood pressure can also affect your gums and cause dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.

• Heart disease increases your chances of having gum disease. Gum disease could also increase your risk of heart disease. Signs of gum disease include swollen gums, bleeding gums, and bad breath.

• Diabetes can cause a severe form of gum disease, called periodontitis. Gums may start to pull away from your teeth. Your teeth may get loose, or even fall out. Periodontitis may be a warning that your blood sugar needs to be under better control.

• Long-term kidney disease is linked to severe gum disease. It leads to poor bone health, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Each of these has a connection to gum disease. Long-term inflammation of kidney disease may also play a role.

• Lung diseases COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), bronchitis, and pneumonia may be linked to gum disease. Bacteria from your mouth can travel to your lungs and cause lung disease or make the condition worse.

• Osteoporosis is bone thinning that affects older men and women. If you have loose teeth or a loose denture, see your dentist. Dental x-rays may show that your jawbone has become thinner, or less dense. Loose teeth and thinning of the jaw are strong signs of osteoporosis in the rest of your body. Talk with your doctor—you may need diet changes and medication to treat osteoporosis.

• Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) linked to gum disease by inflammation. Many studies now suggest that having RA makes it more likely you'll have gum disease, and having gum disease increases your risk of RA. Studies show that the more teeth you lose, the worse your RA is likely to be.

The important message is to see your dentist regularly and take steps to prevent gum disease: brush and floss every day, and eat healthy nutritious foods. With the hectic pace of the holidays, the importance of oral health and hygiene can be easily forgotten.

Stay on schedule with regular dental visits and homecare and you will enjoy a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.

Cape May Dental Associates is welcoming new patients and is focused on the prevention and early detection of oral conditions, and the role they may play on your body.

Cape May Dental Associates is located at 411 Park Blvd in Cape May. For more information, visit capemaydental.com, call (609) 884-5335, follow Cape May Dental on Facebook, or email Dr. Ee at contact@capemaydental.com.