It can be so easy to neglect oral health (hopefully not hygiene though) because trips to the dentist are expensive and even if your country has universal healthcare, dental care may not be covered (*cough* Canada get with the program). I was thinking about this earlier this week when I went to the dentist to get a filling, having had a cleaning the week before. I still have benefits that cover dental care which is great but also made me think of many people I have known who put off going to the dentist because they can’t afford it, despite the multiple health consequences of not getting regular cleanings, taking care of cavities, and checking on your gums.
Rather than bore everyone with an exhaustive list of the potential health complications of poor dental hygiene and oral health, I’d rather focus on the relationship to autoimmune disease. Why? Because that’s what this blog is about – chronic illness. So, there are a few points I want to make.
- There are lots of studies that point to a bidirectional relationship between oral health and autoimmune disease (diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis to name two of them)
- Poor oral health can cause complications if you have an autoimmune disease.
- Some autoimmune diseases, like lupus, require regular dental check-ups to look for things like mouth ulcers which may not be noticeable upon self-checking.
If those aren’t some great reasons to go to the dentist then I don’t know what are! Like everything else, it comes down to prioritizing aspects of your health, especially when it comes down to money. If you do live in a country with universal dental care (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Sweden, Costa Rica, and a few more) than you really should be using it if you’re not already. If you don’t live in one of these countries but have benefits from your place of employment, you also should be using it. If you don’t have any coverage, then even a once a year cleaning (as well as taking care of any cavities or other concerns as they arise) is probably going to help your long-term health.
Yeah, this is just another aspect of our health we may not want to have to deal with, but as Chronic Illness Warriors, we know that there are tons of aspects of our health we don’t want to deal with but do anyway. I hope this inspires at least some of you to make a dental appointment! In the meantime, keep making the most of it!