How Your Oral Hygiene Affects The Rest of Your Body
Did you know that the health of your mouth affects the health of the rest of your body? Numerous studies have shown that your overall well-being correlates to the state of your mouth, teeth, and gums. Poor Oral Health is linked to systemic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, stroke, pregnancy complications, and beyond. At Wurzbach Parkway Family Dental, we care about the wellness of you and your family, which is why we’ve created this article to educate you and those you love on the relation between your oral hygiene and your overall general health. This relationship is known as the Oral Systemic Link! Today we’re going to focus on dental health and how maintaining it benefits not only your smile but the rest of your body as well.
Your Word Of The Day Is: Inflammation
Inflammation is a sign that your body is responding to and fighting off an injury. That swelling and redness is a visual signal that your immune system is taking reactive action. When inflammation is present, that is a symptom of an underlying problem that has caused your body to begin healing and repairing itself.
Chronic inflammation is when the body sends its white blood cells to attack a perceived threat, but when those blood cells consistently have nowhere to go and nothing to attack, they begin to turn on the body’s internal tissues, cells, and organs.
When bacteria and plaque build up on your teeth, they produce acidic waste that is corrosive to both your tooth enamel and your gums. In response to this damage, your gums become inflamed to gain control over the infection and reverse it. Over time, this inflammation morphs into gum disease also known as periodontitis or gum disease. Periodontitis first erodes your gums and later erodes the bone structure which holds your teeth in place.
Inflammation and Diabetes
Chronic inflammation of the gums is an early warning sign that diabetes may also be present in the body. Inflammation of the mouth makes it difficult for the body to regulate its blood sugar levels. People who have diabetes lack the hormone insulin which converts sugars into energy; resulting in their high blood sugar rates. Chronic gum inflammation also inhibits the body’s ability to regulate insulin.
High blood sugar creates an ideal environment for infections to grow; the same infections produced by the bacteria that eats away at your gums and teeth.
Inflammation and Heart Disease
Chronic inflammation has been shown to link to a variety of cardiovascular diseases. There is a theory that inflammation in the gums also causes inflammation in your blood vessels. This inflammation inhibits blood flow in the vessels, which decreases the amount of blood transferred between the heart and other parts of your body, which in turn increases your blood pressure. This also ups the chances of the plaque lining the walls of your blood vessels to break off and travel to your heart or your brain, which can result in heart attack or stroke.
Inflammation and Pregnancy
Scientists have begun to investigate the possible link between low birth weight and inflammation in pregnant women. The more inflammation present, the more infection that exists. And with inflammation and infection come low birth weight and premature births. Although there are many other factors that contribute to these instances, the link between chronic inflammation of the gums and adverse effects on the health of the fetus continues to grow stronger with each study.
Inflammation and Cancer
Chronic inflammation that leads to periodontal disease is also beginning to be suspected as a link to certain cancers. Your risk of oral cancer greatly increases with the presence of periodontal disease. Numerous studies have linked other types of cancers to inflammation caused by periodontitis, such as esophageal cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancers, and pancreatic cancer.
Happier Mouth, Happier Body
It’s undeniable that your mouth and your body are connected; one affects the other and vice versa. Understanding this connection is important when practicing good oral hygiene habits as well as adopting good general health habits.
Symptoms of systemic diseases in their early and infant stages can in some cases be detected by your dentist long before they can be detected by your doctor. This is partially due to the fact that many people see their dentist more regularly than they visit their doctor, and also because the symptoms of many diseases first appear in the gums and oral cavities of people before they migrate to the rest of the body.
The answer lies in preventative oral care: flossing, brushing at least twice a day, getting the dentist-recommended amount of fluoride in your diet, eating healthy, not smoking, staying hydrated, and most important of all, regular dental checkups. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with us, or if you have any questions about the Oral Systemic Link, you can contact us here. We look forward to keeping you healthy and happy for as long as you’ll have us.