IS ORAL HEALTH THE KEY TO OVERALL HEALTH?

Here is another article which seems to suggest that tooth loss predisposes one to the development of disease – rather than the opposite. Wow! Another crazy article in what should be our nation’s premiere dental journal – the JADA. This guest editorial suggests that maintaining good oral health is the key to reducing overall health problems (JADA 148(7) July 2017:477-480).

There is no question that maintaining good oral health, oral care, and oral hygiene are good for you, and an important part of your overall health care. But to suggest that getting it all correct with your mouth is going to reduce your rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes is very convoluted. The idea that patients with autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis tend to have poor oral care is more likely a reverse relationship. The autoimmune condition more likely predisposes one to having infective problems such as periodontitis or tooth decay. Similarly with the diabetic patient, a reduced immune status will contribute to dental disease. Because of this it is especially important for individuals with these concerns to get regular dental care.

We also must look at the social and environmental issues that may face individuals who are more prone to these conditions, especially nutrition deficiencies or balanced nutrition problems such as obesity and their contribution to a reduced immune status/connective tissue disease-conditions. Social issues such as access to care or proper home care would also be significant contributing factors. Although oral/dental disease can lead to systemic medical concerns; I feel the poor oral health issue is more commonly a symptom of other health/social factors rather than being the cause of them.