Increasingly, dentists and doctors are realizing that general health and dental health are linked. Your dentist can tell a lot about your overall health from looking at your teeth. Here are some major diseases and conditions that are linked to dental health. Gum disease in particular seems to be a predictor of or go hand-in-hand with other health problems.
A person can develop diabetes and not realize that they have the disease until it reaches a critical point. Abscesses in the mouth may suggest diabetes to a dentist, and it may be the first time a person learns they have the disease. Gum disease and diabetes may also be linked, and gum disease may increase the risk that a person will develop diabetes.
Gum disease may also be linked to heart disease although this is not yet conclusive. Studies have shown a correlation between people with periodontal disease and people with heart disease.
Infections, including urinary tract infections and throat infections, can trigger premature labor. The same may happen with severe cases of periodontal disease. Any infection in the body stimulates production of proteins called cytokines, and these in turn raise the level of a hormone that causes labor to start.
Other conditions linked to gum disease and poor dental health include osteoporosis, dementia and rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, gum disease can be treated or even stopped by working closely with your dentist.