The Role Oral Health Plays In Some Systemic Diseases

A systemic disease is one that affects a number of organs and tissues, or affects the body as a whole. Although most medical conditions will eventually involve multiple organs in advanced stage (e.g. Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome), diseases where multiple organ involvement is at presentation or in early stage are considered elsewhere.
 
Getting a regular eye exam may play a role in identifying the signs of some systemic diseases. "The eye is composed of many different types of tissue. This unique feature makes the eye susceptible to a wide variety of diseases as well as provides insights into many body systems. Almost any part of the eye can give important clues to the diagnosis of systemic diseases. Signs of a systemic disease may be evident on the outer surface of the eye (eyelids, conjunctiva and cornea), middle of the eye and at the back of the eye (retina)."
 
Since 500 B.C., some researchers have also believed that the physical condition of the fingernails and toenails can indicate various systemic diseases. Careful examination of the fingernails and toenails may provide clues to underlying systemic diseases, since some diseases have been found to cause disruptions in the nail growth process. The nail plate is the hard keratin cover of the nail. The nail plate is generated by the nail matrix located just under the cuticle. As the nail grows, the area closest to becoming exposed to the outside world (distal) produces the deeper layers of the nail plate, while the part of the nail matrix deeper inside the finger (proximal) makes the superficial layers. Any disruption in this growth process can lead to an alteration in the shape and texture.
 
It's not news that there is a significant link between one's oral health and overall health. Though studies are ongoing, researchers have known for quite some time that the mouth is connected to the rest of the body.
 
"Your mouth is the entry point of many bacteria," said Dr. Steven Grater, Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) member and general dentist from Harrisburg. "To keep this bacteria from going into your body, cleaning your mouth (brushing, flossing and rinsing) is necessary."
 
PDA strives to educate the public about the role oral health plays in some systemic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and oral health complications during pregnancy. PDA wants you to know what you can do to keep your teeth, gums and body healthy.
 
Diabetics are more prone to several oral health conditions, including tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, dry mouth and infection. According to "Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General," the relationship between type I and type II diabetes and periodontal disease has often been referred to as the "sixth complication" of the disease.
 
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth, and is caused by plaque-forming bacteria in your mouth. In diabetics, it is often linked to how well a person's diabetes is under control. Diabetic patients should contact their dentist immediately if they observe any of the symptoms of periodontal disease, including red, swollen or sore gums or gums that bleed easily or are pulling away from the teeth; chronic bad breath; teeth that are loose or separating; pus appearing between the teeth and gums; or changes in the alignment of the teeth.
 
Diabetic patients often suffer from dry mouth, which greatly increases their risk of developing periodontal disease. If you suffer from dry mouth, talk to your dentist. He or she may recommend chewing sugarless gum or mints, drinking water, sucking on ice chips or the use of an artificial saliva or oral rinse.
 
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