No part of the body functions truly independently, and your teeth are no exception. Your mouth is a window to the rest of your body and will often show warning signs if there is something bigger going on. If you’ve ever wondered why we ask so many questions about your medical history and lifestyle, it is because we are trying to understand the entire picture, along with what your mouth and oral health are telling us. There are many more things that can contribute to tooth decay rather than just poor oral hygiene. In fact, common diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and eating disorders are examples of some systemic disease that do in fact impact the health of our teeth. As your Mississauga family dentist, we feel that it is important for you to be educated on the oral-systemic links in order to achieve optimal oral health. Common systemic conditions are:
DiabetesDiabetes is perhaps the most significant cause and effect relationship with tooth decay. Whether you have type I or type II diabetes, your body’s blood sugar level is elevated because of lowered insulin levels. This impacts many parts of your body and the mouth as well. One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is dry mouth. Beyond making your mouth feel more comfortable, saliva acts as your mouth’s natural cleansing system, and protects your teeth against the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Lack of salivary flow makes your teeth more vulnerable and more prone to developing cavities.As the tooth decay continues to build up, the risk for gum disease also increases due to the continual buildup of bacteria in your mouth. In fact, about a quarter of all people diagnosed with diabetes also develop gum disease. To further complicate this situation, gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise, which can in turn, increase the severity of the diabetes. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be addressed as soon as symptoms begin to develop.
Autoimmune ConditionsAutoimmune conditions are a family of diseases that involve the body attacking parts of itself. This can include everything from major organ systems such as kidneys, to smaller systems such as salivary glands. Many of these diseases have an impact on the mouth, but the one that is most directly tied to oral health is Sjögeren’s syndrome. Sjögeren’s syndrome reduces the amount of saliva the mouth produces, which has the same effects we described earlier with diabetes. With extreme cases, patients may not even produce saliva at all.People with Sjögeren’s are advised to make more frequent visits to the dentist in order to monitor and keep watch of any tooth decay as a result from the decreased saliva flow. There are also several over the counter products that can be used in order to manage the symptoms and increase salivary flow. Products including xylitol – a natural saliva stimulant – will be quite beneficial to those experiencing dry mouth.
Anorexia and BulimiaBoth anorexia and bulimia are severe eating disorders in which a person has an extreme fear of becoming overweight, and either eat less or regurgitate food as a result. Both conditions have implications on the teeth because the body is not receiving the proper amount of minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients that are needed in maintaining good oral health and preventing tooth decay. A person who is bulimic may binge eat and then vomit, which allows the acid that is breaking down the food to eat away at the tooth enamel. Overtime, the acid will weaken the tooth structure, making it more prone to getting cavities.
Avoid Tooth Decay with Total Body Care
These are just a few of the more common diseases that contribute to tooth decay. The connection between your mouth and body are not always apparent, which is why it is important to share your medical history with your dentist. Our team at Credit River Dental Centre will work with you in order to develop a treatment plan that integrates your mouth with the rest of your body for a full-body approach. To learn more speak to your dental team at Credit River Dental Centre or book your appointment today at (905) 278-4297 and take control of your oral health!