5 Reasons Why You Should REALLY Care about Your Oral Health
As a Holistic Doctor, I am constantly reminded that we as Americans are getting sicker and sicker. I know this is a negative statement to open with. But I really feel that despite “following the doctor’s orders”, “eating right” and “exercising”, we are simply missing the mark. I have my theories on each of these topics and I go into them in other posts. But briefly, we are NOT eating right; but instead eating WAY to many processed carbs and grains, WAY too much sugar, and HORRIBLE processed oils; we are either not exercising at all or OVER-EXERCISING and MOST conventional doctors have no idea how to keep you healthy- they only know how to manage your DISEASE.
Our oral health is no exception. We are suffering more and more cavities, gum disease and oral surgeries than ever before. Like our overall health, despite following dentist’s orders, we are missing the boat.
Oral Health- the Canary in the Coal Mine
Our mouths are often over-looked, disregarded, not prioritized. I believe more and more that this is a huge mistake. As the Canary in the Coal Mine was used to alert miners that the oxygen levels were too low and death was imminent if they did not get out, our mouths are harbringers of what’s going on in the rest of the body, a visual cue if things are not right. And our Oral Health in the U.S. is worse than ever, despite high intake of oral care products and regular visits to the dentist for at least 60% of America. We are missing the boat when it comes to our mouths and it has everything to do with the rest of our health. Why? Because our mouths are a PART of our bodies, are linked to our blood supply, our lymphatics and our endocrine system. Our mouths are the beginning of our digestive system and are attached by a tube to the whole GI tract. How can it be separate? Also, teeth are not stones in our heads: they are living and breathing, and have an internal, nourishing, rebuilding fluid flow. They are intricately linked to what we eat, what we breathe, what we put on our skin, in our mouths and what nutrients are in our blood.
That is why our oral health is essential to our overall body health and vice versa. If you have bleeding gums or chronic cavities, you better figure out what’s going on internally. And vice versa, if you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes, you need to pay particular attention to your teeth.
Here are the 5 reasons you should REALLY start to pay attention to your oral health.
1). Chronic Tooth decay is the NUMBER 1 CHILDHOOD DISEASE. (1) It is more common than asthma and allergies. More common that cancer, ear infections, diabetes and obesity. This is the #1 disease in our kids and it is one of the MOST PREVENTABLE ONES. But don’t think this is JUST an issue of under-compliance of dental visits and oral hygiene. Even though it is estimated that 50% of American children never see a dentist, chronic cavities are not limited to the non-brushers. Fluoride application is up. Dental visits are up. Flossing and brushing are at an all-time high. And still, tooth decay is the #1 affliction of American children happening in younger and younger kids. WHY???
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2) Periodontal disease predicts heart attacks more accurately than high cholesterol does. (2). The theories are not 100% proven as to why this is, but the main pathway is believed to be the following: when a person has inflamed and bleeding gums, the single-layer thin oral mucosa, easily allows the bacteria from the mouth into the blood stream. This bacteria does a number of things once in the systemic blood supply that lead to plaque formation and cardiovascular risk. 1) these bacteria can cause arterial damage due to toxins they release. This leads to arterial inflammation and serious damage to the arteries resulting in the need to build a plaque to seal up the damage. Oral bacteria are often found in arterial plaque lesions. (3) And 2), the bacteria adhere to existing plaque and fatty deposits causing additional inflammatory response from the body and increasing the risk of clots and blockages in the arteries. By healing the oral mucosa, stopping gum recession and bleeding gums and preventing plaque formation in the mouth, these bacteria can be limited and controlled within the mouth and not allowed into the systemic blood supply. Essential oils, diet and PROPER dental hygiene can make a huge dent in these issues.
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3). Antibiotic use has been linked to tooth decay. There is evidence that fluoroquinolone antibiotics cause dental fluorosis that results in crumbling teeth. Cipro, levaquin and Avelox are in this category. According to this article and this study, it is believed the decay is due to fluorosis from fluoride toxicity and with use of fluoroquinolones. Another form of enamel destruction was discovered with amoxicillin use in babies. Dental enamel seems to be destroyed during tooth formation caused by fluorosis associated with amoxicillin. (4) Another theory is that by destroying the oral microbiome, the balance between good and bad pathogens goes array and oral health nose dives. This study discusses the concerns of Amoxicillin use and the existence of anti-biotic resistant bacteria in the oral cavity of children. Since our oral microbiome needs to be balanced, just like our gut, with good guys controlling the bad, this study demonstrates a scary scenario where the bad guys seem to be winning. How may of us avoid antibiotics for fear of cavities?
4) Many Ancient Medicinal systems associate teeth with different body organs. Traditional Chinese Medicine has an oral chart that indicates issue with certain teeth linked directly to disease in the corresponding organ. Many Chinese Medicine Practitioners as well as Holistic Dentists refer to these types of charts to treat their patients in a more Holistic way. There is clearly a link between the mouth and the organs of the body!
5) Dental procedures like root canals leave dangerous infections in the bone of the jaw and can lead to systemic issues as a result of chronic, low-grade infection that the body fights for life. Doing all you can to prevent root canals and other invasive dental procedures can prevent chronic disease like auto-immune disease, arthritis, diabetes, low birth weight chronic fatigue and immune suppression, (5, PubMed study).
Your mouth is a true harbinger of other health problems. Don’t ignore it. Also, if you have illnesses that have not appeared to damage your teeth yet, do your research. Elevated blood sugar, nutrient deficiencies, thyroid disease, dry mouth, allergies and gut issues will all eventually affect your teeth and gums.
Your teeth are ALIVE and CAN heal, but if you wait too long, they can sustain irreversible damage. Take care of your mouth and your whole body.
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