Is there a Relationship between Dental Problems and Overall Health Problems?
Yes, dental health and overall health are closely linked. The mouth can be seen as a gateway to a large amount of micro-organisms. These can sometimes be harmful to your health, causing infections that can reach other organs of your body. They find their way either by the digestive tract or through the bloodstream.
Most dental problems are caused by bacteria or other harmful micro-organisms. These microbes are the cause of tooth decay, gum disease and abscesses of the mouth. If these dental problems are not taken care of, damaging microbes grow in the mouth and then find their way by spreading to other organs of the body. There is evidence that some systemic diseases may be caused or complicated by such oral infections.
Diabetes is a disease caused by lack of insulin production in the pancreas. People with diabetes have a weakened immune system. Infections affecting any part of the body will then need more time to heal. Gum disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, may have a chronic profile, which means that the infection is slow but presents an ongoing basis. People with diabetes who suffer from periodontitis have gums that will wear out sooner because the body has a weaker defence system against infections. The other way around has also a negative effect: periodontitis worsens the diabetic state of a patient.
Infective endocarditis is an infection of the inner layer of the heart, which also involves the heart valves. It occurs when pathogenic bacteria and fungi go through the bloodstream and reach the heart. It can affect drug users who use non-sterile syringes, but also people who have oral infections. Some patients with abnormal heart valves should take antibiotics before any dental treatment.