Oral Health Links to Overall Health
A woman walks into a dental clinic in extreme oral pain. She has been working through the pain and hoping that taking over the counter medications would ebb the throbbing until it simply went away on it’s own but she could no longer ignore her oral health. Because of the delay to her seeking treatment, she now has to pocket out extra expenses for a root canal when if she had been seen earlier the procedure could have been less expansive and saved her time, money, and pain. She, like most Americans, believed that seeing a dentist was out of her price range and opted to wait it out instead of seeing a dentist regularly or even when the pain first started.
This woman’s story is becoming all too common today, and emergency dental medicine is becoming the norm instead of the extreme. This view of dental care as being a luxury is hurting our society’s overall health, not just their oral health.
Dental Care is not a luxury
Dental care is an essential part of a healthy life but is viewed as a luxury by most politicians. Just like you would see a urologist, a renal specialist, or a cardiac specialist, dentists practice a specialized medicine focused on your oral health. We use our mouths every day, to eat, to talk, to kiss our loved ones. You wouldn’t have a heart attack or kidney failure and think of going to a specialist as a luxury, but the view is skewed when it comes to dentistry, and this needs to change.
Diseases that proper dental care reduces the risk of
- Diabetes – Symptoms such as dry mouth, tooth pain, and swollen gums are all possible signs of diabetes. Due to diabetes causing poor blood sugar control, patients with this ailment are at a high risk of developing periodontal disease and mouth infections that can become serious if left untreated.
- Heart Disease – Poor dental wellbeing expands the danger of bacterial contamination in the blood circulation system, which can influence the heart valves. Tooth loss has also been linked to coronary artery disease chances increasing. Like periodontal ailment possibly prompting coronary illness, developing studies are demonstrating that you’re bound at an increased risk of heart attack if you have poor oral health.
- Low birth weight & other pregnancy complications – Periodontal disease has been linked to both preterm birth and low birth weights in newborns. It has also been seen that an infection of any kind in a pregnant mother leads to premature birth due to the body’s response system to infection producing the same hormones that onset labor and delivery.
- Bone density issues and Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis can be caught in early stages by most dental health providers, as one of the first places it takes effect is in the jawbone density, which can lead to loss of teeth, and loss of jawbone mobility. Early diagnosis is vital in preventing further complications with bone density loss throughout the rest of your body.
How tooth decay affects your overall health
Tooth decay leads to infection, and fighting that disease puts your entire body at risk. Having regularly scheduled checkups and cleaning reduces the risk of infection. Think about it this way, the more times you delay dental care and end up taking antibiotics for an abscess or infection, the less likely those medications are to work for you. In recent years, the amount of hospitalizations due to dental issues that have gone ignored has skyrocketed. These hospitalizations are more costly than the initial dental exam would have been, and sadly could have been avoided.
Tooth decay and gum diseases can also manifest as symptoms for other more severe conditions. Seeing your dentist on a regular schedule, just as you would, your regular doctor will increase your chances of getting an early diagnosis and receiving life-saving treatment options.
Delaying dental care causes more problems
Waiting to be seen until you are in pain seems to be the standard in today’s economy. People delay regular checkups due to the high cost of insurance premiums, and the long waits of scheduling a new patient appointment. A simple checkup and cleaning is an upfront investment that can save your family thousands in the long run. What may have been a matter than only required a filling could turn into a root canal extraction, which is much more costly. Taking time off from work for a scheduled appointment is much easier than having to have an emergency appointment and then taking the time to recover. Delaying care hurts your pocketbook twice and affects the overall health of your body.
Lawmakers need to make dental care more accessible
While the debate for globalized healthcare still stands strong, no publicly available plans are required to include dental care for adults. A blind eye is turned even when lawmakers are hit with the fact that spending money to insure for dental care would reduce the overall cost of medical care and improve the health of the country. For children who do have dental coverage through Medicaid, there is a lapse in care often due to the low reimbursement rates offered to dentists, making it impossible to be seen promptly since so few dental practices will accept these insurance plans.