For decades, scientists have conducted research and studies to delve into the delicate interworking of the human body. Often in an effort to pinpoint the triggers for cancer and other diseases, they have carefully examined the intricate and integral nature of our bodies’ complex systems.
As a dentist, I’ve found the connection between serious health problems and the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease of particular interest. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The same bacteria that can inflame and destroy gum tissues and the structures that support teeth must be pretty potent. As destructive as these bacteria can be in the mouth, their harmful nature can run rampant in the body.
When gum disease weakens the tissues in your mouth, the bacteria can penetrate them and enter the bloodstream. As the bacteria travel throughout the body, they can activate systemic inflammation.
Systemic inflammation has been found to be the basis for a wide variety of serious health problems, thanks to extensive research. While inflammation can be a normal response to our body’s immune system, it is meant to be a temporary reaction of the immune system. For example, ‘acute’ inflammation is a supportive function as a cut heals or the swelling of a thumb that’s been accidentally hammered subsides.
Chronic inflammation is when the immune system turns on and then can’t turn itself off again, even when it is no longer needed. As a matter of fact, chronic inflammation can lead to damaging effects to your health.
Chronic inflammation is depleting to the body’s energy levels and leaves it vulnerable to disease. It is now known as a source and contributor for many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Over the years, I have been monitoring research that shows the correlation of gum disease and the higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, a study presented at the 2018 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology shared how gum disease may actually serve as the primary trigger for systemic autoimmunity associated with RA.
By tracking the antibodies associated with RA, it was found that they originate from a site outside of the joints. The study indicates that inflamed gums may activate the process that results in RA. (http://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/1312-oral-bacteria-linked-to-migraine-headaches?highlight=WyJtaWdyYWluZSJd)
RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes pain and disability to the joints and damage to internal organs. While older adults are more frequently affected, young adults, adolescents, and even children can develop RA.
According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), nearly half of American adults have some level of gum disease. I believe this may be due to the ability of gum disease to exist without obvious symptoms. (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/oral_health_disparities/index.htm)
Unfortunately, when symptoms emerge, such as gums that bleed when brushing, many people fail to associate the issue with gum disease. Some even deem bleeding gums as a sign they are doing a good job brushing (which is NOT the case!).
In addition to tender gums that bleed when you brush, other signs include persistent bad breath; swollen gums; gums that pull away from teeth and expose darker, tooth root areas; gums that turn red versus a healthy pink hue; and, pus pockets that form near the base of teeth.
Even though the bacteria of gum disease is so potent and destructive, it is so easy to prevent with rather simple measures. Brushing thoroughly twice per day and daily flossing helps to keep oral bacteria levels manageable between dental check-ups. It is also helpful to drink plenty of water each day to keep the mouth moist. This helps saliva flow stay at an efficient level to rinse away food particles and oral bacteria.
Your 6-month dental cleanings are designed to remove plaque or calculus (also known as tartar) buildup that has formed since your last cleaning. Plaque is a sticky film of oral bacteria that coats the teeth and gums. Calculus is a hardened form of oral bacteria that attaches to teeth. It can no longer be brushed or flossed away.
Obviously, your oral health is an integral part of your overall health. It is important to keep a healthy mouth so your body can function without interferences from the rouge bacteria of gum disease. Plus, your smile will thank you!
Renew your commitment for a confident smile, fresh breath, bright teeth and healthy gums. Begin with a free consultation to discuss how we can help you enjoy optimal oral health through our skills and an effective at-home regimen. Call 910-254-4555 to schedule or tap here.
During this time, we’ll also be happy to discuss any concerns you have regarding comfort. We have many patients who once had dental anxiety or fears who now smile confidently and are relaxed at dental visits. Too, easy payment options can also be discussed. Just ask to speak with our helpful Financial Coordinator for more information.