Did you ever hear that funny, old song, “ Dem Bones?”
“ The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone…”
Well, it’s true – except much more is interconnected than just your skeletal system. You are a whole being with all parts working together and affecting each other.
Though insurance companies seem to think that your oral health is an entirely separate issue from your overall health, the Summit Smiles team absolutely does not. We know and have seen case after case in which fixing oral health problems have helped our patients feel better, stronger, fitter, and more alive than they have in years! This kind of dentistry is called oral-system, or complete health dentistry, and it is changing lives all over Northern Nevada.
How a Smile Can Affect Your World
Think about how you feel when someone smiles at you. Or how you feel when you share a smile. Smiling makes you feel great emotionally – and it improves your health.
But the opposite is true as well. Not only can hiding your smile because something is unhealthy or unsightly in your mouth keep you from experiencing the health-boosting benefits like lowered blood pressure and an increase in serotonin, but it can also lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Worse yet, ill-health in your mouth is directly tied to all kinds of systemic health issues as well.
We can’t emphasize it enough: our bodies are an interconnected system, and when something goes wrong or is unhealthy in one part, the rest of the system goes out of balance. It’s why we start all of our new patients with such a comprehensive exam – an exam that includes checking your gums for any signs of infection; your teeth for damage, wear, or decay; and your jaw, posture, and neck position as we evaluate for TMJ and sleep apnea as well as bite balance.
Here are some of the ways your mouth and body are connected:
- The Gum- Body Connection
We are listing this connection first because it is one of the most important. Let’s start with some stats: At least 64.7 million people in the US have some level of periodontal or gum disease. That’s a big deal: As you may have heard, studies have consistently proven a clear connection between gum infections and significant health issues. You see, your gums are a mucous membrane, a unique tissue that stops pathogens from entering your body. Unfortunately, when these protective tissues become infected themselves, they become a source of pathogens, which can be directly linked with such health problems as heart attacks, strokes, diabetic complications, cancers, problems during pregnancy and low birth-weight infants, among other things. If you have any signs of gum infection such as bleeding when brushing and flossing, puffy or red gums, or if you take medications that can cause dry mouth, please call us right away. Our periodontal advanced periodontal treatments can get you back on the path to health, saving both your smile and your well-being.
- The Musculoskeletal Connection
Temporomandibular disorder, sometimes referred to as TMJ or TMD, affects a lot of people – up to 12% of the population. Everything from an improperly balanced restoration or broken or missing tooth to a physical trauma such as a car accident can cause TMD. We are seeing an increase in TMD as stress levels increase – one of the leading causes of TMD is clenching and grinding, a primary symptom of stress. When TMD is not appropriately treated, it can lead to chronic pain such as migraines, mood disorders, and is even linked to sleep apnea. We can help discover, diagnose, and treat musculoskeletal issues using a combination of technology and treatments, including TEKscan pressure- and force-mapping sensors.
- The Sleep-Health Connection
Lots of people suffer from sleep apnea and never know it. Even if they have bed partners who hear them snore, the fact that a much more serious disorder is present may never come to light. We really worry about that for our patients! Why? Because sleep apnea is a serious and life-threatening disorder that can lead to strokes, heart disease, morning headaches, tooth damage, chest pain, depression, chronic fatigue, and even sudden death!
Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Chronic fatigue
- Morning headache
- Impaired memory and judgment
- Mood disturbance
We are always here to keep an eye on your whole health, even if you never show signs of gum disease, sleep apnea, or TMJ disorder. The truth is, the connection goes both ways and all kinds of things can affect your oral health, from illness and medications to pregnancy. If there ever a change in your overall well-being or in medications and treatments, please let us know. Your best health is our commitment!