Our mouths can get us into trouble by not saying anything.
Our teeth and the inside of our mouths can affect our entire health — and it may not have anything to do with how many calories or fat grams we consume. It’s about properly taking care of our teeth to prevent periodontal disease which can cause gum issues and bone loss.
“As professionals we understand how closely the two [overall health and teeth] are linked. Our job is to educate our patients that they are related,” said Dr. Sara Denzinger-Rowe, who operates Denzinger Family Dentistry at 5404 Charlestown Road in New Albany. “If something is going on in the mouth that is very important.”
Every time a patient comes in for a checkup, Denzinger-Rowe and her partner, Dr. Tracy Guilford, complete a cancer screening and examine the mouth and teeth for not only tooth decay, but for other warning signs of possible health issues.
“Some patients come to us twice a year but don’t see their physicians. We can examine the mouth and then point them in the right direction if we see something,” Guilford said.
One of the main culprits to the health of both teeth and body is periodontal disease. The mouth is full of bacteria which can cause gum issues, plaque and tartar buildup on teeth. There is also a relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease, if there is excessive plaque buildup. Signs of diabetes can also show up in an examination of the mouth according to Denzinger-Rowe.
“We always ask about family history,” she said. “Periodontal disease can raise blood sugar and affects the support of your teeth and overall bone health. It’s a quiet disease and you don’t know something is going on until you develop symptoms.”
Symptoms of gum disease according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research include bad breath that won’t go away, red or swollen gums, painful chewing, loose or sensitive teeth and receding gums.
Risk factors include smoking, hormonal changes, diabetes, genetics and of course, not taking proper care of your teeth.