Feeling Sick? Look in Your Mouth

sick woman at workThe consequences of an unhealthy mouth aren’t always obviously related to your smile. The relationship between your mouth and the rest of your health can sometimes allow dental issues to impact the state of your physical health (often referred to as oral-systemic health). Rochester dentist, Dr. Gilly Calcagno, explains that poor oral health can contribute to conditions with a wide variety of symptoms, including severe migraines, fevers, a weakened immune system, and generalized pain in the head, face, and neck. Since medical physicians are often ill-informed about the intricacies of oral health, some patients can suffer discomfort for years before finally finding relief through proper dental treatment.

Often-Overlooked Causes

TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull and allow your mouth to move. TMJ disorder describes a dysfunction in the joints, usually involving damage, inflammation, and misalignment, that can make opening and closing your jaw difficult. By disturbing your jaw’s nerve, which is a part of the most dominant group of your 12 cranial nerve groups, TMJ disorder also causes a host of varying aches and pains, including chronic migraines, earaches, and pain in your neck and back.

Abscessed Teeth

An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms on a severely infected tooth, usually due to advanced tooth decay. If not treated, the abscess can damage the gums and jawbone around it, and can lead to fever, swelling in the face, and tender, swollen lymph nodes. If the abscess ruptures, the pain may subside, but your oral health may still be at risk. If it doesn’t drain properly, the pus can spread the infection to your jaw, head, neck, or even into your bloodstream, causing a life-threatening infection known as sepsis.

Excessive Inflammation

Among the most significant factors in oral-systemic health is inflammation. When germs consistently bombard your mouth in the form of dental plaque, your immune system tries to prevent infection by enacting inflammation. The excessive swelling can damage your gums, leading to gum disease, and spread to your jawbone if not checked. When mouth bacteria enter your bloodstream through compromised gums, they can travel throughout your body, contributing to inflammation in other tissues. Unchecked inflammation in the body is often a significant risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and pancreatic cancer, among many other inflammatory conditions.

About Dr. Calcagno:

Dr. Gilly Calcagno is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Minnesota Dental Association, and is active in local dental implant study clubs. To schedule a consultation, or to learn more about how the ACA will affect your family’s dental care, call Calcagno Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry today at (507) 281-3659.