Have you ever thought of your mouth acting as a portal of entry for infection? Or a gateway to your body?
A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand. If you don’t take proper care of your teeth and gums, not only can it result in cavities and gum disease (periodontal disease), it can cause far more serious consequences.
Gum disease is the most chronic inflammatory condition in the world. Studies have shown a direct correlation between certain health problems and poor oral health. Ongoing inflammation in your mouth can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which may lead to more inflammation in other parts of your body. Studies from Mayo Clinic and reports from ABC News have both highlighted a few major areas of concern.
Infections around the gums can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to arteries in the heart, causing them to harden. Another risk is artherosclerosis, where plaque can develop inside artery walls and thicken. Blood flow through the body can actually decrease as a result, and the risks of heart attack and stroke are increased.
Another problem that can result is endocarditis, which happens if this inner heart lining becomes infected.
By combing through 1,000-plus medical histories, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.
Gum tissue inflammation can affect the ability to control blood sugar and worsen symptoms of diabetes. The inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin.
High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infections to grow, including gum infections. This is why oral health is even more important in diabetic sufferers because of their susceptibility to gum disease already. When diabetes is controlled, there’s an immediate improvement in the condition of the mouth. When periodontal disease is treated, the need for insulin is usually reduced.
Our bloodstream can be attacked by bacteria from gingivitis, inflammation of gum tissue in its initial stage. It can then enter the brain through nerve channels and may even lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Gestational diabetes and premature labor have also been studied and has shown to be affected by gum disease. Regular check-ups with your dentist and dental hygienist become even more important during pregnancy.
Breathing in bacteria from infected teeth and gums over an extended period could cause lung infections, including pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema. For those who suffer from pre-existing lung conditions like COPD, gum disease may make it worse.
New research suggests that tooth loss may predict rheumatoid arthritis and its severity. Tooth loss is a marker for gum disease and it’s known that gum disease will worsen pain already suffered by those inflicted with this auto-immune disorder.
Take Steps Toward Better Oral Health
Good brushing, flossing and antibacterial rinse habits are more important than ever in order to prevent serious illnesses. Immune system disorders, weakened bones and problems with pregnancy or low birth weight can also be results from poor dental care.
Physical examination of the mouth and face can reveal signs of disease and perhaps even preserve the risk of losing memory in your golden years. We at South Anchorage Dental are working for each of our patients to help them continue the quality of life they deserve.
Are you due for your dental check-up? It could save your life!