Yer head bone’s connected from yer neck bone

Yer head bone’s connected from yer neck bone

(The Oral Systemic Connection)

Did you grow up singing “Dem Bones”?  I think it is probably one of the first songs I learned as a child in the 1950’s.  The link below will take you to the video of the Delta Rhythm Boys singing “Dem Bones” purported to have been written by James Weldon (1871-1938)

Somehow, many of us think of our “parts” as separate and autonomous in their function.   Consider how the components of your body (bones, muscle, tissue, blood) are all very much connected to each other.  What happens in one part of the body may very well effect what’s going on in another.

Your dental health is so much more than an attractive smile.  There is increasing evidence that the health of your teeth and gingivae (gums) may be affecting other health conditions.   The most recent list of suspected oral connections is:

  • Cardiovascular Disease (various heart and artery conditions)\
  • Pulmonary Disease
  • Fetal Development
  • Diabetes
  • Orthopedic Implant Failure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Osteoporosis

The same blood that flows through your heart, lungs, muscle, and organs also flows through the gums.  When the gums are less than healthy, this blood flow can pick up bacteria and carry it on to the rest of your body.   The veterinarian often begins his examination of an animal with a look at the teeth and gums because he knows this is an indication of over all health.

Understanding gum disease is so important to maintaining optimum health.  Some basic facts about gum disease help put things in perspective:

  • The mouth contains over 500 different micro-organisms
  • Bacterial plaque left uncontrolled becomes calculus
  • The result is destruction of the gums and bone supporting the teeth
  • Decay of exposed tooth structure and loss of bone equals loss of teeth, bacteria in the blood stream, and health complications

Oral health and the connection to other health issues is too long and involved to cover in this article.  A first step is to know be aware of the symptoms:

  • Red, puffy gum tissue
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding when brushing and flossing

What to do?

    1. Commit to an appreciation of the oral systemic connection
    2. Be specific with your dentist about your known and existing health conditions.
    3. See your dentist or the dentist’s hygienist regularly for removal of plaque and calculus.  The condition of your gums will be charted by measuring the “pockets” (gaps) around your teeth.  These pockets trap and hold bacteria until the blood comes along and picks them up.
    4. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for home care
    5. In more extreme cases, your dentist will refer you to a specialty dentist called a Periodontist.
    6. Discuss your oral health with your primary care physician.

Want to know more?  The following web sites contain more in-depth discussions.  Be informed and take control because “da head bone’s connected to the……………….”
American Dental Association
The Colgate Corporation
A government publication
Covers the connection with specific health conditions.


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