Oral Systemic Link

Oral systemic health is the connection between oral health and overall health. Countless studies have demonstrated a link between poor oral health and systemic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even pregnancy complications.

Springwoods Village Dental and Oral Systemic Health

Springwoods Village Dental takes advantage of educational opportunities regarding oral systemic healthcare and we incorporate these principles into our practice.

Dentists are Disease Detectives

  • Your mouth contains a lot of clues about what is going on in the rest of your body which is why it's so important to see your dentist.
  • During a routine exam dentists look for way more than just cavities and gum disease they're searching for clues that may point to serious health issues inside and outside your mouth.
  • Because of this your dentist really is a disease detective.
  • Through an annual screening, your dentist can often catch oral cancer in its earliest, highly curable stages.
  • By examining your mouth head and neck dentists can now detect the signs and symptoms of more than 120 diseases!

Oral Complications of Systemic Diseases

What Are Oral Complications of Cancer Therapy?
Most people are aware of common side effects of cancer treatment like nausea and hair loss. But many don't realize that more than one-third of people treated for cancer develop complications that affect the mouth. These problems may interfere with cancer treatment and diminish the patient's quality of life. Head and neck radiation, chemotherapy, and blood and marrow transplantation can cause oral complications ranging from dry mouth to life-threatening infections.
What Can Be Done to Reduce Their Risk and Impact?
The publication series "Oral Health, Cancer Care, and You" informs health care providers and patients about steps they can take before, during and after cancer treatment to reduce the risk and impact of these often painful side effects. The 12-piece series includes fact sheets and laminated pocket guides for dental and cancer professionals, patient education publications in both English and Spanish, and a wallet card for patients with space for the names and contact information of their health care team.

Three Good Reasons to See a Dentist BEFORE Cancer Treatment

Feel better
Cancer treatment can cause side effects in your mouth. A dental checkup before treatment starts can help prevent painful mouth problems.
Save teeth and bones
A dentist will help protect your mouth, teeth, and jaw bones from damage caused by head and neck radiation and chemotherapy. Children also need special protection for their growing teeth and facial bones.
Fight cancer
Serious side effects in the mouth can delay, or even stop, cancer treatment. To fight cancer best, your cancer care team should include a dentist.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Mouth?
People who have diabetes know the disease can harm the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in the body. Did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth?
People with diabetes are at special risk for periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. Periodontal disease can lead to painful chewing difficulties and even tooth loss. Dry mouth, often a symptom of undetected diabetes, can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay. Smoking makes these problems worse.
What can I do?
Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with poor blood glucose control get gum disease more often and more severely than people whose diabetes is well controlled. Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups and good blood glucose control are the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes.

Diabetes: Dental Tips

Diabetes can cause serious problems in your mouth.
If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).
Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.
If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop problems in your mouth. The good news is you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help prevent serious problems in your mouth.
Take steps to keep your mouth healthy. Call us when you notice a problem.
If you have diabetes, follow these steps:
  • Control your blood glucose.
  • Brush and floss every day.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
  • Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not fit right, or if your gums are sore.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit.
Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist.
Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent mouth problems.
What Oral Problems are Caused by HIV/AIDS?
People with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), are at special risk for oral health problems. Many of these problems arise because the person’s immune system is weakened and less able to fight off infection.
Some of the most common oral problems for people with HIV/AIDS include: oral warts; fever blisters; hairy leukoplakia; oral candidiasis (thrush); and aphthous ulcers, often called canker sores.
People with HIV/AIDS may also experience dry mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay and can make chewing, eating, swallowing, and even talking difficult.
Many of the common oral health problems associated with HIV can often be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. There are also self-care steps you can take to help ease dry mouth.

Mouth Problems and HIV

This information is for people who have mouth (oral) problems related to HIV infection. It explains the most common oral problems linked to HIV and shows what they look like. It also describes where in the mouth they occur and how they are treated.
They are common
Oral problems are very common in people with HIV. More than a third of people living with HIV have oral conditions that arise because of their weakened immune system. And even though combination antiretroviral therapy has made some oral problems less common, others are occurring more often with this type of treatment.
They can be painful, annoying, and lead to other problems
You may be told that oral problems are minor compared to other things you have to deal with. But you know that they can cause discomfort and embarrassment and really affect how you feel about yourself. Oral problems can also lead to trouble with eating. If mouth pain or tenderness makes it difficult to chew and swallow, or if you can’t taste food as well as you used to, you may not eat enough. And, your doctor may tell you to eat more than normal so your body has enough energy to deal with HIV.
They can be treated
The most common oral problems linked with HIV can be treated. So talk with your doctor or dentist about what treatment might work for you.
Remember, with the right treatment, your mouth can feel better. And that’s an important step toward living well, not just longer, with HIV.
Photo Description It could be: What & where? Painful? Contagious? Treatment
Red sores ulcers Aphthous (AF-thus) ulcers. Also known as Canker Sores Red sores that might also have a yellow-gray film on top. They are usually on the moveable parts of the mouth such as the tongue or inside of the cheeks and lips. Yes No Mild cases – Over-the-counter cream or prescription mouthwash that contains corticosteroids; More severe cases – corticosteroids in a pill form
  Herpes (HER-peez) A viral infection Red sores usually on the roof of the mouth. They are sometimes on the outside of the lips, where they are called fever blisters. Sometimes Yes Prescription pill can reduce healing time and frequency of outbreaks.
White hairlike growth Hairy Leukoplakia (Loo-ko-PLAY-key-uh) caused by the Epstein-Barr virus White patches that do not wipe away; sometimes very thick and “hairlike.” Usually appear on the side of the tongue or sometimes inside the cheeks and lower lip. Not usually No Mild cases – not usually required; More severe cases – a prescription pill that may reduce severity of symptoms. In some severe cases, a pain reliever might also be required.
White creamy or bumpy patches like cottage cheese Candidiasis (CAN-di-dye-uh-sis), a fungal (yeast) infection – Also known as thrush White or yellowish patches (or can sometimes be red). If wiped away, there will be redness or bleeding underneath. They can appear anywhere in the mouth. Sometimes, a burning feeling No Mild cases – prescription antifungal lozenge or mouthwash; More severe cases – prescription antifungal pills.
Warts   Small, white, gray, or pinkish rough bumps that look like cauliflower. They can appear inside the lips and on other parts of the mouth Not usually Possibly Inside the mouth – a doctor can remove them surgically or use “cryosurgery” – a way of freezing them off; On the lips – a prescription cream that will wear away the wart. Warts can return after treatment.
Photos courtesy of Dr. David Reznik, HIVDent.org; and Dr. Jeff Lennox

If you have dry mouth
Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. Saliva helps you chew and digest food, protects teeth from decay, and prevents infections by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth. Without enough saliva you could develop tooth decay or other infections and might have trouble chewing and swallowing. Your mouth might also feel sticky, dry and have a burning feeling. And you may have cracked, chapped lips.

Talk to your doctor or dentist about prescribing artificial saliva, which may help keep your mouth moist.

To help with a dry mouth, try these things:
  • Sip water or sugarless drinks often
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid salty foods
  • Use a humidifier at night