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The Connection Between Dental Care and Your Overall Health

When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned? Its a question a lot of us prefer to avoid, rather than going to the dentist. Just the thought still gives some of us goose bumps. But our oral health actually plays a crucial role in our overall health.

If you have been putting off a visit to your dentist, there are some things you should know about the direct correlation between your oral health and your general health. Inflammation and infections in the mouth can be linked to many serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, strokes, respiratory conditions and problems during pregnancy, just to mention a few. In fact, our teeth have a lot to do with how we feel everyday.

What is Plaque?

We all have heard about plaque since we were children. Remember the red discoloring tablets that helped show us the plaque we left on our teeth, so that we might become more efficient at brushing. If you hadnt done a good job at brushing when you smiled at your mom, you were sent straight back to brush again.

Plaque is a soft sticky film that forms on our teeth after we eat or drink. The bacteria in plaque can cause gum inflammation, gingivitis and more. The bacteria in plaque, which causes tooth decay as well as bone and tooth loss, are closely linked to other systemic conditions in your body.

In order to keep the bacteria found in plaque under control, it not only requires good home care and routine dental hygiene visits, it also requires treating tooth decay and infections. One way your dentist detects infection around your teeth is with x-rays.

Did you know you should have a full series of x-rays that include the standard bite x-rays as well as x-rays that radiograph the entire tooth, every 3-5 years? The less common x-rays,which radiograph (or provide an image of) the whole tooth, allows your dentist to check, not only for tooth decay but also infection around the root of the tooth.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease develops when the space between the tooth and gum, called a sulcus, collects plaque, and the bacteria in the plaque produces a toxin that stimulates an inflammatory reaction causing the gum and bone around the teeth to break down and be destroyed. Your dentist measures the severity of periodontal disease, to determine appropriate treatment based on the amount of bone and gum loss.