Has your Naperville family dentist ever asked about your medical history or overall health? You may wonder what your grandfather’s heart disease, a history of high blood pressure, or a past experience with gestational diabetes has to do with your dental cleaning.
The answer lies in how your oral and medical health affect each other. There are many health risk factors that increase when dental issues are added to the mix, and your dental health can likewise be affected by your medical history.
At Sherman Oaks Dental, Dr. Bryan Weyneth and Dr. Lydia Sosenko stress the importance of a full medical history from your very first visit, and you can expect staff to ask for updates on a regular basis. Here are just a few indicators that you might need to have a chat with your dentist about what is going on with the rest of your body!
- Personal or family history of heart attack or cardiovascular disease. If you need some type of extensive dental work, your dentist may decide extra antibiotics in advance of surgery are in order to prevent any kind of infection.
- Gestational, Type 2, or Type 1 diabetes can cause a variety of oral health issues, the most common being dry mouth. Ask your dentist about safe ways to increase saliva production, and remember to ask for early morning appointments if you cannot eat or drink before a procedure, to avoid a severe drop in blood sugar. Diabetes can also increase your chances of gum disease.
- Syncope (fainting) is one of the most common issues in the dental office. If you have a history of fainting, make certain your dentist knows so the staff can be aware that you may pass out.
- Hypertension is another red flag. If you have high blood pressure, inform your dentist, as pending dental procedures can often increase stress from anxiety or fear. Don’t be ashamed to ask for medication to take the edge off.
In the same way that your body’s health can affect your oral health, the reverse is also true. There are many ways in which your dental issues can end up causing problems for your overall health.
- Infection that starts in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body. This can be particularly dangerous if the bloodstream becomes affected. If you have an infection, it can also cause you to have to delay needed procedures. Taking care of your teeth and having regular cleanings and checkups is the best way to stave off this kind of problem – don’t wait until your tooth hurts to see your dentist!
- Losing a tooth can also negatively affect your health. Once a single tooth is lost, the structure of the arch is compromised, meaning that teeth on either side of the gap are much more prone to becoming lose and falling out. This can lead to a cascade of tooth loss, which can in turn lead to issues with eating, improper chewing and digestion, and self-esteem issues that go hand in hand with an imperfect smile.
- Gum disease has been linked to a number of health complications, including osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and even certain kinds of cancer – especially if you are already at risk. A periodontal treatment plan can help lower your risk.
Bottom line – no part of your body is an island, sufficient unto itself, but each is part of the main. Your oral health affects your overall health, and your overall health affects your oral health. Whether you are coming in for a new patient appointment or are an established patient, always keep your dentist informed of your recent and past medical history, and keep your doctor apprised of your dental and oral health issues as well. It’s the best way to keep the mouth/body connection in good shape!