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Best of Omaha

Dentistry and Medicine: What's the Connection

August 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

FROM THE DESK OF DR. MATZ

Dentistry and medicine keep getting closer together.  You may have heard me say that I believe dentistry could easily be a specialty of medicine.  I consider myself an oral physician as much as a dentist.  Here is my “short list” of how dentistry and oral health affect the entire body (and vice versa):

1. Poor gum health is associated with low birth weight babies.
2. Poor gum health is associated with poorly controlled blood sugar in diabetics.
3. Poor gum health is associated with increased risk of heart disease.
4. Poor gum health is associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
5. Tooth loss and poor gum health are associated with obesity.
6. Tooth loss reduces digestive efficiency and makes the system work harder to process food.
7. Tooth loss and excessive wear of the teeth causes creasing of the corners of the mouth that harbor yeast infections.
8. Tooth infections can postpone other necessary surgeries.
9. If not treated prior to chemotherapy and radiations treatments infected teeth can cause severe bone infections and breakdown.
10. Some medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause bone in the jaw to breakdown similar to #9 above.
11. Oral cancers have a very high incidence of metastasizing to other parts of the body.
12. Many jaw joint dysfunctions (TMJ) get misdiagnosed as migraine headaches.
13. Anorexia/Bulimia, alcoholism, chemotherapy and uncontrolled gastric reflux (heartburn) can cause teeth to dissolve.
14.  Uncontrolled diabetes is associated with increased gum disease.