The Mouth Isn’t Separate from the Body: Why Dental Health Matters

By Leslie Levine, Technical Assistance & Research Manager, LiveWell Colorado

Delta Dental blogAt its annual Engage in the Change luncheon on October 5, LiveWell celebrated the achievements of Delta Dental of Colorado CEO Kate Paul. As organizations dedicated to oral health and, by extension, healthy eating, Delta Dental of Colorado and Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation make natural partners in our effort to combat excessive sugar consumption, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain and cavities.

But dental health is about more than just fighting cavities. As Paul reminded us at our luncheon, “The mouth isn’t separate from the body. Why would you treat them any different?” Your dentist can help spot the signs of other health problems and work with your primary care provider to improve your overall wellness.

For instance, your dentist can help identify:

Diabetes: Gum disease is common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and it can make it more difficult to control blood sugar. Your dentist can schedule more frequent exams to monitor gum disease, and some carriers even cover the cost of more frequent exams and cleanings when there is a medical condition like diabetes.

Oral Cancer: Your dentist or dental hygienist can be the first to spot signs of oral cancer in a routine exam. They’re often the first to identify a red or white spot or sore in the mouth, the most common symptoms. Early diagnosis is crucial to survival.

Heart Disease: Gum disease is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, so you should tell your dentist if you have a family history of heart disease. By treating gum disease, you may decrease inflammation in your body that could contribute to heart disease or strokes.

Healthy eating can go a long way to keep your smile bright. For instance, dark greens like broccoli and spinach are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients.

And don’t think that just because you don’t have any dental issues, you don’t need regular dental care. Even low-maintenance mouths need a professional check-up regularly, and dental insurance can help keep costs in check. If you’re one of the 108 million Americans who lack dental coverage, here are some things to consider:

You save money: By seeing your dentist regularly, you can prevent dental problems before you need expensive treatments. If you do need treatment, your costs will be less than if you did not have insurance.

You save time: Treating problems before they become painful will save hours of lost work and school time.

Your overall health improves: Dental infections can lead to more severe health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Your dentist can screen for oral health problems and other diseases and can refer you to a physician, if needed.
For more information on how your dental health can affect your overall well-being, visit Delta Dental.

This is a sponsored post as part of the Engage in the Change Luncheon.