General health

The Relationship between Oral and Physical Health

Woman at dentist smiling

Think really hard about this question: When was the last time you’ve been to the dentist? Has it been six months? A year? Two years? More than three years? For some people, going to the dentist is a terrifying experience and because of that they try to avoid any type of dental appointment that they can. A study by DentaVox included a survey of 18,000 people worldwide that showed about 60% of them are afraid of going to the dentist with approximately 4% claiming that they have never seen a dentist in their lifetime¹. This does not include those who don’t have dental insurance and shrug it off due to the belief that our teeth aren’t as important as other parts of our body.

So why is this information important? Because contrary to what some may believe, our teeth are highly powerful but yet underrated tools within our bodies. Those who don’t believe this are doing themselves a disservice. Did you know that in forensics, detectives use an individual’s dental records, teeth replicas or markings to help identify any criminals or murder victims if a fingerprint cannot be obtained? Someone’s teeth can also give clues on the person’s age, diet, lifestyle and culture. Another thing that many don’t realize is that the health of our teeth has a connection to our medical history.

Studies over the years have built a connection between oral health and overall physical health in general. Evidence shows that there is a strong correlation between how we choose to take care of our teeth and how they can affect our health. Many chronic diseases such as diabetes, ulcerative colitis, HIV, Lymphoma, anemia and many others have shown a direct link to someone’s oral health.

Our Teeth Can Reveal Our Diets

While our teeth may not be as effective as a blood test, they definitely can communicate clues on our diet history. According to a study done by Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, Anthropologist Professor at Ohio State University, she examined fossilized teeth of primates and was able to compare the diets of our ancestors from over 2 million years ago to our diets today. In her findings, she discovered that human teeth were “adapted to eating a very different diet” than that of Western Society and that “99% of humans’ evolutionary history was spent eating foods that were hunted and gathered”². Today, human diets consist more of processed sugary foods that our teeth are not built for, thus causing plaque buildup, root canals and bacterial infections that can further spread into the body. Steinberg also discovered that more people today develop teeth that need special care such as impacted wisdom teeth (caused by soft diets that don’t stimulate jaw growth), braces (due to a misalignment of the teeth) and cavities due to poor diet history.

At LifeWorks, we encourage the Paleo Diet to ensure that our patients gain healthy dental hygiene to prevent bacteria from seeping into the teeth and gums.

Our Teeth Can Indicate Our Health Issues

In the early 1900s, a dentist by the name of Dr. Weston Price spent years studying the relationship between the health of our teeth and the connection to various diseases. More specifically, he found that infections found in root canals had a way of spreading bacteria throughout the body, thus causing infections, autoimmune disease and other serious health conditions.

Would you ever leave a dead organ in the body? That is essentially what happens with a root canal tooth. If a tooth is deemed to need a root canal it is recommended to have the tooth removed instead. If a tooth gets inflamed or infected, a conventional dentist will perform a root canal and remove all the blood vessels, nerves and pulp. The dead tooth is then filed with a rubber like substance, the tooth is then filed down and then covered by a crown. While this might initially seem like the bacteria is being removed, this can still pose a health risk. Dr. David Howard of Holistic Dentistry stated that “teeth are similar to other organs in the body in that they require a blood supply, lymphatic and venous drainage and nervous innervations”³. With that being said, your teeth contain main canals along with thousands of side canals that have miles of nerves within them. When a dentist performs a root canal, they remove the nerve from the main canal and leave behind dead nerves on the side canals. Eventually, this will cause anaerobic bacteria to thrive within the side canals and buildup toxicity from digesting necrotic tissue that, if not treated, can lead to chronic inflammation and cause a disease or even cancer. While root canals can result in various health consequences, our teeth can communicate other signs of health issues. For example, tooth loss can indicate a sign of osteoporosis and erosion of tooth enamel can be a symptom of eating disorders.

When You Can…Please See a Dentist

Oral health is just as essential as our physical health. The two used to be intertwined together back in the mid-1800s before dental schools became more formalized and created their own dental schools, institutions and practices; eventually breaking away from the medical industry. Since then, most people found that a visit to a primary care doctor was more important than seeing a dentist every six months. Dental hygiene is extremely important to the rest of the body. Things such as gum disease, plaque, tissue inflammation, cavities and many others can affect the rest of the body.

We encourage all of our patients to see a dentist or dental hygienist to keep their teeth in tip top shape, so they don’t add any additional health risks to the body. If you have had a root canal in the past and fear that you may have toxins within your body, please give us a call today at 727-466-6789 to schedule an initial consultation.