When brushing teeth, one might overlook the benefits it can have for the entire body. Two area dentists said the health of a person’s mouth is directly related to overall health and if they don’t take care of their teeth, other health issues may arise.
Dr. Rick Rzepka of Rick Rzpeka and Associates with offices in Lyndhurst and Cleveland, and Dr. John Heimke, president and owner of The Facial Aesthetic Designers with offices in Rocky River and Sandusky, said when people don’t take proper care of their mouth, they can see at first glance.
“Dental health, believe it or not, is connected to everything in the body,” Heimke said. “The mouth is the entry point (to the body). If you have poor dental health, that can affect all of the organ systems. There have been studies where poor dental health makes Alzheimer’s disease worse, (causes) heart disease or even problems with the liver and kidneys. And if you have gum disease and don’t notice it right away, it can take a toll on your body later.”
Rzepka said people should think about the effects oral health has on the heart.
“Dental hygiene, not only is it how you look or smell, has a direct correlation to your heart,” he said. “There are findings that the bacteria of the mouth, when a person has any kind of heart disease, that bacteria has come from the mouth. It’s also a standard routine for a surgeon to tell their patient to have their mouth examined before an operation like open-heart surgery or knee surgery. If there are any infections, they need to get that infection eradicated before they go into surgery so they don’t cause complications.”
Heimke and Rzepka said as people get older and require more medication, dry mouth becomes a concern.
“The saliva is very important, as it keeps your mouth lubricated, but it also has antibodies that can fight the bugs that can come into your body,” Heimke said. “As people get older, their medications can lead to dry mouth and that can cause root cavities. It’s hard to eat food in a dry environment, and imagine if that was all the time. Then, the bacterium that is in the mouth would attack the teeth very rapidly, which would, in turn, cause decay.”
Rzepka suggested those suffering from dry mouth could chew sugar-free gum after eating to stimulate saliva. He also said plaque is a huge factor in oral and bodily health because it can build up even when one doesn’t eat.
“It’s a build-up of bacteria,” he said. “When it comes to cavities, it’s an ‘us vs. them’ situation, them being the bacteria. We need to keep bacteria under control as much as possible – the bottom line is that you have to brush every day, twice a day.”
Heimke said, “Plaque causes chronic inflammation, not just inflammation in the gums and teeth. It can cause cavities and it also tears up the gums – it definitely correlates to heart disease as well. Any chronic diseases of getting older, definitely if you have poor health, the plaque plays a significant role.”
Rzepka said when it comes to keeping up with oral maintenance, toothpaste that has lots of active ingredients could do more harm than good.
“Stay away from toothpaste that is loaded with chemicals, the ones that say they can do everything,” he said. “Some people even have a reaction to their toothpaste, where the tissue almost begins to slough off and that can happen when the toothpaste is too aggressive.”
Heimke and Rzpeka said if people keep up with regular maintenance like brushing and flossing paired with regular dental visits, their oral health should be fine and in turn, their body shouldn’t suffer.https://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/
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