These are uncertain times, but did you know that your dental health provides a valuable clue about your overall health? It is even said that the mouth is the mirror of our health. A dentist’s gum exam—like an eye exam at the optometrist—can sometimes detect the warning signs of certain disorders and help prevent them.
- Diabetes: People with undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes are at greater risk of developing gum disease (called periodontitis). Getting an annual check-up from your dentist could help manage the consequences of both.
- Heart disease: There is also a link between periodontitis and the health of your heart. If you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, it’s best not to skip your cleanings that can help identify a gum problem early on.
- Strokes: The same link is being studied with regard to strokes, which is the third leading cause of death in Canada.1 Note that risk factors include being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, cholesterol, alcohol, etc.
- Respiratory disorders: The bacteria on your teeth and in your mouth can be inhaled and reach your lungs, with an ensuing risk of infection.
- Alzheimer’s: Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria that attacks the gums, has been detected in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, which surprised researchers.2 Tartar on teeth or bleeding gums may signal its presence in the mouth, hence the importance of regular cleaning!
1Statistics Canada. Table 102-0561 – Leading causes of death, total population, by age group and sex, Canada. CANSIM. [Online] https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-publique/services/publications/maladies-et-affections/accident-vasculaire-cerebral-canada-fiche-technique.html
(page viewed on September 1, 2020).
2 Science Advances, January 23, 2019, Vol. 5, no. 1 — Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors. [Online] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaau3333.full (page viewed on September 1, 2020).