Good Oral Health Contributes to Good Overall Health
Written by Faith Woodland
Photography by Stephen Wild
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to dental health. Dr. Nick Cosman, dentist and co-owner of Cataraqui Dental Centre, stresses the importance of regular oral maintenance to help prevent development of systemic diseases such as stroke and heart disease. Diabetes is also affected by inflammation of the gums, and many cancers are directly related to oral health.
As a dentist and athlete, Dr. Cosman knows the benefits of prevention and maintenance when it comes to oral health. Proper care can help achieve high levels of health and fitness.
Dr. Cosman explains that gum disease contributes to systemic diseases, as bacteria in the mouth can lead to inflammation elsewhere in the body. Oral bacteria can be a cause of clogged arteries, and any inflammatory disease is exacerbated by poor oral health. For patients dealing with diabetes, he stresses the relationship between oral health and blood sugar levels. Bacteria from gum disease can increase blood sugar levels. “Blood sugar goes out of whack because gums are inflamed,” he explains.
Dr. Cosman is also seeing an increase in oral cancer with a rise in HPV lesions. “Unfortunately, as younger patients become sexually active, HPV is spreading and then leading to oral cancers.”
For those anticipating any sort of surgery or cancer treatment, it is imperative that dental issues be addressed before beginning chemotherapy or radiation. Aggressive cancer treatments affect the immune system, putting patients at risk in the fight against bacterial infections and viruses.
Patients’ Health Differs, But Oral Health Starts With Proper Care
Dr. Cosman recognizes every patient is different. Some are quick to build tartar and of those, some have gums that are more reactive than others.
Genetics also play a part in oral health, with some people being more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
However, Dr. Cosman says that all dental and gum disease, regardless of genetics or chronic conditions, is preventable with the correct care. Brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily are the minimum recommendations for good dental health.
Many patients find regular home care and routine check-ups and cleanings are sufficient to maintain healthy oral hygiene. Others require more attention, with cleanings every three to six months.
People dealing with systemic diseases must be more diligent with their oral care, and those who take medications face further challenges.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. People who experience dry mouth have less saliva, which causes a decrease in the levels of disease-fighting enzymes. For these patients, Dr. Cosman suggests the use of a mouth rinse, which acts as a saliva replacement, providing necessary enzymes.
The Importance of Physical Health
Dr. Cosman, a graduate from University of British Columbia, and a practising dentist for 12 years, describes himself as an “exercise freak,” competing regularly in triathlons. He believes in achieving high levels of health and fitness by focusing on prevention. “The fitter you are, the more likely diseases go away,” he says.
He encourages his patients to maintain good oral health and overall fitness to enjoy the healthiest life possible.
Cataraqui Dental Centre
476 Cataraqui Woods Dr. 613-384-4224