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September 8, 2012

Oral Health: Snapshot of Systemic Wellness

The next time you schedule your annual physical, make sure you have your regular dental visit on the calendar as well.  To get an overall view of your health, it can be beneficial to start with the mouth.   Current research shows that many systemic deficiencies or maladies are illustrated in the tissues of the oral cavity.   Atlanta dentist Dr. Peter Pate explains how he can ascertain details about your overall wellbeing by inspecting the health of your mouth.

The Connection Between Your Mouth and Your Body

The oral-systemic connection refers to the relationship between the health of your mouth and the overall health of your body. Over the last several decades, numerous studies have shown that the two are distinctly connected. For instance, the earliest signs of some potentially fatal systemic diseases appear as lesions in the mouth or other oral problems. This discovery has increased the importance of attending your regular dental checkup. Early detection vastly improves the chances of successful treatment.

Further Implications of the Oral-Systemic Connection

The oral-systemic connection has other important implications as well. Incidences of tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to specific malicious bacteria within the oral cavity (S. mutans and P. gingivalis, respectively). When you consume food and beverages that contain refined sugars and other fermentable carbohydrates, bacterial plaque (which is constantly present in your mouth) digests these substances. The by-product of this digestion is lactic acid, which plaque secretes over the surfaces of the teeth. When lactic acid attacks enamel, it also saps teeth of essential enamel-strengthening minerals (calcium and phosphate).  Without these ingredients, the enamel is not able to remineralize and strengthen itself.   Weakened enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to bacterial attack, which leads to tooth decay. The plaque under your gum line secretes acid, and attacks the connective tissue between the gums and teeth. This irritation causes the gums to recede from the teeth, increasing the chance of gum disease. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through diseased soft gum tissue and travel throughout the body, irritating body tissue cells along its journey.

Regulation Through Exercise

To improve overall health and to assist your body in safeguarding your oral health, incorporate regular exercise into your routine.  One of the greatest benefits of regular exercise is the regulation of body chemistry. The gum disease bacteria P. gingivalis is dangerous because it evokes the body’s inflammation response. An improved cardiovascular system allows healthier blood flow, which controls inflammation. Daily exercise also promotes a healthier diet, decreasing the chances of unhealthy substances (e.g. abundant sugar) attacking your oral health.

To learn more about improving your oral health, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pate, contact Dentistry in Buckhead at (404) 266-9424. We proudly welcome patients from the Buckhead area, as well as Sandy Springs, Lenox, Brookhaven, and the greater Atlanta area.

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