Could having good ORAL health give you a ‘leg up’ on having better OVERALL health?
I’d like to share some findings that reinforce the need to maintain a healthy mouth. First, allow me to explain why your oral health is now known as a major player in your overall health.
In your mouth, there are millions of bacteria, which are micro-organisms that are taken in via the food we eat, the utensils we use and even our toothbrushes. During a given day, ka-zillions of bacteria enter the mouth. Through saliva flow, a large number of these are moved out of the mouth.
However, saliva is unable to efficiently manage the bacteria reproduction that occurs from today’s normal lifestyle. Most Americans not only eat three meals a day, most of us have a snack (or two) as well. Additionally, our diets are laden with sugar and carbs. These tend to ramp up the reproductive ability of oral bacteria.
Thus, saliva is only able to remove just so much bacteria from the mouth. This is where twice daily brushing and daily flossing come in. When you brush thoroughly (at least two minutes per time) and floss to remove food particles caught between teeth, you help your mouth to more efficiently manage bacteria in the mouth.
As diligent as we try to be when it comes to our oral hygiene routines, very few of us have an ideal regimen. And, add in the many agents in our lives that contribute to oral dryness (such as many medications, caffeine, and a number of health conditions) and you have an environment that breeds oral bacteria beyond what we are typically able to combat.
Your twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings are designed to help remove oral bacteria buildup that has hardened into tartar (or calculus). This is what your hygienist is scraping off teeth during cleanings. Typically, the gums in areas where it exists are especially tender. This is because a buildup of oral bacteria creates inflammation on surrounding gum tissues. So, just as a cut on your finger that turns red is sore, so are the gum tissues under attack from an overload of bacteria.
When the inflammation in your mouth becomes full-blown gum disease, the tissues are weakened. Your overall health takes a hit when the oral bacteria of advanced periodontal disease enters the bloodstream through tears in inflamed gum tissue. Once bloodborne, it can travel throughout the body.
What researchers have found is how the inflammatory nature of gum disease bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Systemic inflammation is a term used often these days, which describes an immune system that has gone haywire. It is a constant simmering that leads to a long list of health problems.
Thus far, oral bacteria from advanced periodontal disease has been correlated to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, some cancers (including prostrate and pancreatic), Alzheimers disease, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and impotency.
For example, the American Diabetes Association shared a review that focused specifically on the relationship between oral pathogens and diabetes, which included the statement: “Many studies conducted during the past decade have focused on a change in approach to studying periodontal infection and its relationship to systemic health and disease. Periodontal diseases are recognized as infectious processes that require bacterial presence and a host response. Risk factors in conjunction with bacteria and the host response can affect the severity of disease, patterns of destruction, and response to therapy.” (http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/23/4/171)
Additionally, a study in Medscape reinforced the association between gum disease and the risk for stroke. One of the authors of the study stated, “results show that individuals who regularly attend the dentist had half the stroke risk of those who do not receive regular dental care.” (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/891550)
And the findings go on and on.
Yet, gum disease is actually easy to prevent. And, when caught early, treatment needs are minimal. All it takes is a commitment on the part of an individual, which includes staying involved with your dentist. Those six-month check ups are structured to help you care for your smile between visits and to provide tips on maintaining proper care at home.
Over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease. I suspect the reason for such an alarming static lies in the fact that gum disease often exists silently. An individual may not have initial symptoms, and then once they emerge, such as tender gums that bleed when brushing, are often ignored if “nothing hurts.”
While many people pay the most attention to the teeth seen in their smile in a mirror, the visual of “everything’s okay” is misleading. It’s what’s occurring underneath the gums that effects the health of teeth and, as research shows, your entire body.
Let us help you enjoy a healthy, confident smile while giving your overall health a leg up! Begin with a thorough examination. Or, call 910-254-4555 for a free consultation to discuss any concerns you have, such as dental fears or time constraints. We are here to help you achieve a healthy mouth – for life!