The health of your mouth has countless impacts on your overall health. Think of your mouth as the gateway to the rest of your body. From diabetes to sleep apnea to emotional health, the mouth matters.

Malocclusion means teeth that don’t fit together well. Baby teeth are the placeholders for adult teeth. Lose the placeholders and the adult teeth can come in crooked or crowded. This can be caused by losing a baby tooth too early to decay or even by decay between the baby teeth.

Teeth that don’t fit together trap food. Crooked or crowded teeth are harder to keep clean. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

In a growing child with lots of decay the shifting teeth can cause the inside shape of the mouth to narrow and the tongue can become crowded. There is scientific evidence suggesting that this can affect the shape of the airway in the throat and could lead to sleep apnea or breathing problems during sleep.

Heart Disease
Roughly 80% of US adults have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is preventable and reversible. Bacterial infection in the gums can spread to other parts of your body. Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.

Research shows that people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. Now, new research suggests that having periodontal disease may make it more likely to also develop diabetes. The presence of periodontal disease may have a detrimental affect on your blood sugar levels. Treatment of periodontal disease may help people with diabetes achieve better glycemic control.

Low Birth Weight
Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. Pre-term and low birth weight babies are at increased risk for numerous complications including infection and difficulty feeding and gaining weight.

Periodontal disease is an infectious disease affecting more than 23 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 54 years. Periodontal disease is a preventable and treatable condition. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is even more important that you see your dentist regularly.

Sleep Apnea
An anatomically constricted airway can collapse while lying back or sleeping. If you snore, wake up gasping for air, wake up tired, or have trouble staying awake, you may have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, and medication and surgery complications, among other issues. A physician must diagnose sleep apnea. The first treatment of choice is a CPAP breathing machine. If the patient cannot tolerate the CPAP, an oral appliance may be a viable alternative. An oral appliance works by bringing the lower jaw forward supporting the airway open.

The way a person feels about their smile profoundly affects their self-esteem. Problems with extensive decay, bleeding gums, bad breath, crooked or missing teeth, or perhaps ill-fitting dentures impact self-image and self-esteem.

For an estimated one quarter of the population, negative feelings about getting dental treatment stem from a bad experience in the past at the dentist.

Healing problems in the mouth and preventing the same problems from reoccurring can create a great deal of emotional healing. Find a dentist who will truly listen to you and who will support putting you in control of your oral health.