7 Surprising Reasons to Visit the Dentist (Besides Your Teeth!)
It’s true that your dentist only works in your mouth, but that doesn’t mean that their impact is limited to healthy teeth and gums. Far from it. The impact of getting regular quality dental care extends through your body, and there are many health conditions your dentist can help with that you probably never suspected were related to your teeth and gums.
Headaches (Including Migraines)
Headaches are a common symptom and can be related to many different causes, but many people who can’t get good results with headache treatment can blame their headaches on temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). TMJ can cause headaches because it causes the buildup of muscle tension in the head and neck, which can lead to tension headaches or it can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, triggering migraines. Some dentists offer TMJ treatment.
Morning headaches can also be related to sleep apnea, a disorder in which your breathing stops at night. Some dentists offer a comfortable alternative to the main sleep apnea treatment CPAP.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Oral bacteria know a shortcut: when they infect your mouth, causing gum disease, they hitchhike through your blood vessels into your heart. Oral bacteria contribute to the buildup of arterial plaque, which can break off, causing strokes.
Chronic gum disease also means your body is flooded with inflammatory compounds, which can cause your blood vessels to swell and narrow, increasing blood pressure.
Heart disease is also another serious health effect related to sleep apnea. By offering sleep apnea treatment, your dentist can help protect you from high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
Pneumonia is a lung infection, normally by bacteria. The bacteria found in pneumonia contains a lot of oral bacteria, which means that gum disease likely contributes to your pneumonia risk. Keeping oral bacteria under control with regular dental checkups and cleanings helps reduce your pneumonia risk.
Oral bacteria can get into your lungs just as a result of normal breathing, but one thing that can transport bacteria into your lungs is CPAP, whose constant airflow pushes bacteria into your lungs and can increase pneumonia risk. Your dentist can help with a sleep apnea treatment that doesn’t rely on forced air and therefore might lower your pneumonia risk.
Men’s Sexual Health
Sexual dysfunction is commonly related to gum disease. Men with gum disease are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Getting regular checkups can prevent gum disease and help prevent sexual dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction for both men and women can also be related to sleep apnea, which causes people to lose energy and interest in many daily activities.And for men, at least, treating sleep apnea is more effective for dysfunction than pills.
If you find yourself worn out before your day even starts, and you just can’t seem to find your energy all day long, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, whose number one symptom is daytime sleepiness. Anyone who finds they need a jolt of caffeine in the middle of the day to keep going should be screened for sleep apnea.
Diabetes is bad for your oral health, but poor oral health can also contribute to diabetes. Gum disease makes it harder for your body to regulate blood sugar levels.
Sleep apnea can also lead to diabetes because it impacts your body’s ability to regulate energy usage. Incidentally, this can also contribute to weight gain or make it hard for you to lose weight.
We’re not sure how gum disease contributes to pregnancy risks like low birth weight and premature birth, but there’s a strong correlation. We also know that treating gum disease reduces risks, so we know that there is probably a cause-and-effect relationship, we just don’t know what it is yet.
Things get really trick here because pregnancy itself can make it hard to maintain your oral health. Hormone changes can make your mouth more vulnerable to infection.
Oral Health Is Essential to Overall Health
If you thought that going to the dentist only mattered for cavities and gum disease, hopefully the above list has changed your mind. Regular dental visits help protect your overall health and ensure that you are fit to enjoy all the things that life has to offer.