Though dentistry and medicine are still treated largely as separate spheres, most Americans acknowledge the link between oral and whole body health. As the latest survey on such things tells us, 92% of adults and 96% of parents say oral health is very or extremely important to overall health and well-being.
Yet many would be hard pressed to tell you about specific oral/systemic connections.
For instance, 36% are unaware that oral health and diabetes are linked. Slightly more don’t know that it’s linked to heart health, too. And despite regular headlines about gum disease, tooth loss, and cognitive decline, over 40% of American adults don’t realize that the conditions are related.
Sadly, these numbers have actually worsened through recent years – even as mainstream dentistry has finally begun to recognize mouth/body health, largely with respect to the relationship between periodontal (gum) health and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
But this is hardly the only way in which conditions in the mouth can affect whole body health.
Dental materials, for instance, can have systemic effects. The most notorious of these, of course, is the dental amalgam used to make “silver” fillings. Despite the name, they’re made mostly of mercury, a highly toxic metal that is especially damaging to the brain. (If this is unfamiliar info to you, we encourage you to explore our archives, as well as these resources from the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology to learn more.)
And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In this presentation, naturopathic doctor Dawn Ewing discusses some other all-too-common dental situations that can play a role in whole body illness: