January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, which means it’s a great time to knock out two important preventive health visits – a dental exam and an eye exam. Why? Well, it turns out that your mouth may have a lot to say when it comes to the health of your eyes.
According to the American Glaucoma Society, studies suggest that periodontal (gum) disease and recent tooth loss increases our risk of developing open angle glaucoma (OAG).
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half (47.2%) of American adults have mild to severe periodontal disease. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on your which attract harmful bacteria. It develops gradually over time and can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene and going in for routine dental exams. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, chronic bad breath (halitosis), and permanent tooth loss.
Glaucoma has been labeled as the “silent thief of sight,” and consists of a group of disorders which cause slow and irreversible loss of vision that can lead to blindness. OAG is the most common form of glaucoma, accounting for 90% of all glaucoma cases, per the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Our eyes have small drainage canals that help regulate our eye pressure. OAG occurs when fluid drains too slowly from the eye and causes pressure to build up and, if left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Like periodontal disease, OAG develops gradually over time and can be prevented with routine eye exams.
Tips for preventing periodontal disease:
- Brush for 2 minutes, twice a day;
- Floss at least once a day;
- Stay on top of your preventive dental visits;
Tips for preventing glaucoma:
- Wear eye protection;
- Know your family’s medical history;
- Stay on top of your preventive eye visits;
Talk to your dentist to learn more about your risk for periodontal disease and how to prevent it. Visit your eye doctor to learn more about your risk for OAG and how to prevent it.