Dr. Dongari-Bagtzoglou has been studying oral candidiasis for over 20 years. It is a two-way street. It is common knowledge these days that good oral health means good overall health. That is, a healthy mouth reflects a healthy body.
Dentists might be the first to notice ailments.
During a routine checkup, dentists may see a lesion or sore that could signal oral cancer. To confirm their suspicion, dentists may recommend a biopsy.
Or take the Human Immunodeficiency Virus which causes AIDS. Spotting oral candidiasis may raise a red flag because the fungal infection in the mouth may indicate a weak immune system, one of the first signs of AIDS.
A weakened immune system was one of the first diagnostic signs of HIV when the epidemic started in the early 1980s, says Dr. Anna Dongari-Bagtzoglou, professor and head of the Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Dongari-Bagtzoglou has been studying oral candidiasis for over 20 years.
It is a two-way street. It is common knowledge these days that good oral health means good overall health. That is, a healthy mouth reflects a healthy body.
A paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows these links.
The study was conducted by Dr. Patrick Coll, Professor of Family Medicine and Medicine at the UConn School of Medicine, with fellow faculty at the UConn School of Dental Medicine.
The study also showed the importance of proper hygiene. For example, bacteria in the oral cavity released in the bloodstream can have a detrimental effect on older patients with replacement heart valves and prosthetic joints.
The bacteria can potentially lead to infections in the area of the implant. “If you have an artificial heart valve, you need to be particularly fastidious with your oral hygiene,” says Dr. Coll.
Poor oral health among the elderly may cause tooth loss. This impacts on the senior citizen’s ability to chew and may lead to malnutrition.
Dr. Coll recommends elders should have proper oral care. For instance, elderly patients with dementia may forget about brushing their teeth and oral health care in general.
“There are many aspects to promoting healthy aging, and oral health is an important piece,” Dr. Coll says.
Dr. Coll says he and the rest of the interprofessional health care team at UConn are committed to providing the very best health care, including oral care, based on the latest research and clinical evidence.
“The overall goal of this line of health care is centered in the UConn Health mission to achieve and maintain patient wellness,” he says.
Dr. Joseph D. Lim is the former Associate Dean of the UE College of Dentistry, former Dean of the College of Dentistry, National University, past president and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy, and honorary fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. Honorary Life Member of Thai Association of Dental Implantology. For questions on dental health, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or text 0917-8591515./WDJ