The saying “Don't look a gift horse in the mouth” and “Straight from the horse's mouth” allude to the fact that for centuries, people have checked horses' teeth and gums to see if the animal was healthy. Though the scientific reasons why oral health is closely linked to physical wellness have only recently been explored rigorously, farmers have known about the links for ages.
In addition to reflecting overall health, oral health affects the entire body. Oral diseases and poor oral health are linked to some very serious symptoms and conditions. The mouth can also be affected by diseases afflicting the rest of the body.
How Oral Health Affects the Body
Oral health is inextricably linked with general physical health because some oral diseases and conditions can negatively affect other body systems. For example, open sores and lesions caused by gum disease can be entryways for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread disease. Most oral bacteria species are not harmful, especially if they remain only in the mouth.
Unfortunately, gum disease can allow bacteria to do damage to other parts of the body if they get into your blood.
Gum disease may also put you at risk for debilitating medical conditions. The risk of diabetes, for example, is lower for people with healthy gums. Bacteria entering the bloodstream due to gum disease can contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries, causing coronary artery disease and other heart conditions to be twice as prevalent as in patients without gum disease.
Like the proverbial horse's mouth, your mouth is also an indicator of your overall health. The reason for this is that many medical problems and diseases manifest themselves in the mouth even when they are not otherwise apparent. Good oral health is usually seen as reflecting a strong immune system. Also, certain cancers can be detected early from signs present in the mouth.
The Benefits of Oral Health
Oral health is clearly vital to keeping your whole body healthy. However, that is not the only reason to take care of your teeth and gums.
Teeth and gums are a part of your face that people notice, meaning that oral health is also important for your visual appearance. Missing or misaligned teeth, cavities, and gum disease can severely detract from your looks, potentially lowering your self-esteem.
Dr. Greenhalgh has decades of experience in both general and cosmetic dentistry, and he can help you achieve optimal oral health and appearance. For more information about oral health or cosmetic dentistry in the Denver/Lakewood area, please call Scott Greenhalgh, DDS today at 303-988-9060 and schedule a consultation.