Dentists and doctors over the last decade believe there is a connection between our body health and dental health. There are now dozens of peer-reviewed articles by medical professionals linking gum disease with chronic illnesses in our bodies.
The Mouth-Body Connection
When we think about improving our overall health, most of us don’t think about oral health first. The truth is that a lot of us think of our teeth the same way we think about other cosmetic features like our nails and hair. Grocery store aisles and mall kiosks are full of whitening products. We just don’t place the critical attention on our oral health that we do on the rest of our body.
Just how much of a difference can it make? Some doctors say that having a healthy mouth can add as many as six years to your lifespan! Taking care of your teeth and gums can significantly improve the quality of those years as well.
Don’t Think This is Relevant to You?
According to the Center for Disease Control, “One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.” We can all do a better job taking care of ourselves.
Mouth-Body Bacterial Transfer
What happens in your mouth does not actually stay in your mouth! The mouth is one of the most significant pathways for bacteria to enter into our body. There are actually several ways that harmful oral bacteria can spread into the rest of our body. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Harmful oral bacteria can be ingested or swallowed. While we sleep, our bodies go into a cleaning and renewing cycle. During that cycle, our mouths are generally stagnant. Saliva does not circulate which leads to waking up to high levels of bacteria. When we swallow, even from a clean glass of water, the bacteria enters our body.
- Passive absorption is a significant factor in the transfer of harmful bacteria into our bloodstream. Our mouths were intended to absorb a great deal of nutrients and foods, it is coated in mucous membranes and has a high concentration of capillaries near the surface. The mouth is actually one of the body’s most absorbent organs.
- According to the Journal of Periodontology, “The mouth can be a major source of chronic or permanent release of toxic bacterial components in the bloodstream during normal oral functions.” The infection can get worse when oral plaque solidifies into tartar and makes contact with our gums. Our impaired gum line, due to the tartar, can allow harmful oral bacteria to enter into our blood. Having oral bacteria in our blood might not seem like a significant part of our bodies overall function. But, its presence can directly add inflammation to the body. The swelling caused by inflammation restricts our cardiovascular flow and promotes and magnifies aging and disease.
These are just a few of the many ways that harmful oral bacteria is being shown to affect our bodies with a variety of health issues including; heart disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory problems, pregnancy complications, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even memory loss.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Fortunately for all of us, Periodontic medicine is proving to us that we have far more control over our overall health than we previously realized. Given that those with severe Periodontal disease are 40% more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, preventing oral disease can make a lasting and significant impact on our lives. Here are a few simple steps you can take between now and your next appointment;
- Rinse, swish and spit in the morning to get rid of excess bacteria before eating, drinking or swallowing.
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Floss every day.
- Avoid eating sugar or carb-heavy foods.
- Add lots of vegetables to your diet.
What Should You Do Now?
At North Royalton Family Dentistry, we care about your dental and overall health. We fully believe that a healthy mouth is directly related to a healthy body. To help you achieve a beautiful smile, and a healthier life, we offer services for general dentistry, like fillings, cleanings, and other tooth restorations. If you feel like you might be suffering due to gum disease or aren’t sure how to tell, please contact us immediately to schedule an appointment.