A specific author I enjoy reading delivered an inspirational “self-help” book in which one of his lessons for life is to “take care of yourself as though you are taking care of someone you care about.” It seems like a trivial message, but it happens all too often that some will focus on ensuring their loved ones are following a strict health routine while disregarding their own. Moreover, even certain health priorities are put on the backburner even though they constitute greater precedence of our overall wellbeing than we assume. I witness these situations often as I observe patients disregarding their oral health for the sake of their loved ones or even at the expense of their overall health.
More so, these days, we are discovering strong links that associate dental health with overall systemic conditions. Coincidentally, a recent article further supports a strong relationship to periodontal health and Alzheimer’s. As dentists, periodontal health is a concern as bacteria within the gums not only can result in loss of the supporting bone around teeth but can also enter the bloodstream aggravating common health conditions. The new study explains how the periodontal bacteria, p. gingivalis, can result in an immune response that can kill neurons resulting in symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s.
In addition to the previously mentioned oral health association, patients with gum disease are at risk for certain heart diseases. Accumulated oral bacteria that spread throughout the bloodstream can provoke or augment certain heart conditions like endocarditis. Proper oral hygiene is also crucial for diabetics, as strong associations between diabetes and gum disease exist. Of course, any dental infection possesses the risk of spreading to crucial anatomy that can result in compromising complications.
Let’s make a concerted effort to appreciate all aspects of our health are important, including our oral health. Remember, by taking care of ourselves, we can continue to take care of those who need us most. Happy Smiling!