Can Your Dental Health Affect Your Digestive Health?

Eating, talking, smiling—consciously or unconsciously, so much of daily life is influenced by our oral health. And here’s one more thought to chew on: oral health affects digestive health as well.

After all, digestion doesn’t begin the moment food reaches the stomach—it begins before we swallow that very first bite. The digestive process gets its start in two ways:

  • Mastication

“Chew your food properly.” Probably every child has heard this piece of helpful advice, because it’s hazardous to swallow large pieces of food. But there’s more to it! There’s a positive benefit for your digestive system when you keep chewing until that mouthful has been pulverized into a uniform, almost paste-like consistency.

But even though chewing food properly leads to easier digestion, dental problems can make the simple act of eating difficult and uncomfortable. Missing teeth or tooth pain can lead to swallowing food before it’s been properly broken down and softened, making it harder for your meal to make its way down the esophagus and more work to digest.

  • Saliva Production

As it happens, there’s science behind the expression “mouthwatering.” Saliva contains digestive enzymes. These enzymes help break carbohydrate molecules into smaller sugar molecules, which are easier for our bodies to digest and use for energy. Saliva also contains enzymes, which begin the digestion of fat and helps neutralize acids as we eat.

When your oral health is compromised, the normally smooth operation of your digestive system can suffer as well. Fortunately, you and your dental team have options.

  • Relief for Tooth Pain

When eating is painful, or when you avoid putting pressure on a loose or sensitive tooth, you’re probably chewing more cautiously and less thoroughly. You might be dining on soft foods or liquids, avoiding chewier proteins, vitamins, and fibers on the menu.

Recurring tooth pain means it’s time to give Dr. Chan and Dr. Phana call. If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury, if there are continuing problems with infection after a root canal, if a tooth needs to be extracted, or if you need any kind of surgical treatment, talk to your oral surgeon. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are surgical specialists, with extensive education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in the face, mouth, and jaw.

  • Replacing Missing Teeth

Losing one or more of your teeth has a real impact on your ability to bite and chew as easily as you should. Not only that, when you’ve lost a tooth, your other teeth and your jaw are affected.

Implants are one of the most effective and long-lasting solutions for resuming your normal eating habits. They function like your natural teeth, and, like your natural teeth, stimulate the jawbone as you chew to prevent the bone from shrinking over time.

Oral surgeons like Dr. Chan and Dr. Phan are specialists in implant procedures. Because they are experts in surgically treating the gum tissue, bones, muscles, and nerves surrounding the teeth, they are ideally qualified to help you restore the function and appearance of your smile.

Whether you need a single implant or a multiple implant, talk to Dr. Chan and Dr. Phan to learn all about your options.

If you haven’t visited our Plano and Carrollton office for a while, there’s no time like the present. Restoring your oral health will lead to easier digestion, more enjoyable dining—and a very good reason to smile. Food for thought!