Have you been avoiding you’re dentist? When was last time you had your teeth cleaned? Do you notice blood in your saliva after brushing? It’s very important to maintain optimal oral health because of the “Oral-Systemic Link.” Oral pathogenic bacteria (bad bugs) don’t just stay in the crevices around your teeth—they enter your blood stream and travel to and can affect the rest of your body. It’s important to understand the intimate connection between your oral health and your overall health and what you can do to protect yourself.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these common health concerns can be directly related to or affected by the health of your mouth.
- Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control. Vice versa, people with periodontal (gum) disease upsets the fine balance of blood sugar control that is so important to control diabetes.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle, may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
An article at naturalnews.com, “How Periodontal Disease Can Lead To Chronic Diseases” says, “Periodontal Disease is a Chronic Infection That Leads to Chronic Disease.” Harvard Medical School researchers studied longevity and found that one of the most important contributing factors was daily flossing. Because it removes bacteria from the teeth and gums, flossing helps to prevent periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Another study found that men with periodontitis had a whopping 72% greater risk of developing coronary disease. Gingivitis was associated with a 42% increased risk for men. A 1996 study involving over 1,100 individuals found that all significantly related to their baseline periodontal status.
“Around each one of your teeth there is a natural space between the gum and the tooth. The depth of this space is important. If it’s too deep, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Disease is diagnosed by redness, swelling, bleeding, odor and pocket depth. The presence or absence of gum disease is a reflection of an individual’s ability to withstand the negative influences of improper tooth care, daily eating, drinking, and even by the content of one’s own saliva,” writes Dr. Ray G. Behm Jr., DDS.
The most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque can cause blood clots that induce heart attacks when they escape into the bloodstream, researchers have reported. As the plaque gets harder and thicker, it becomes what is known as dental calculus or tartar, a hard calcified layer that is virtually impossible to remove with normal brushing. Only the dentist or dental hygienist can do it. It can even descend into pockets around the base of teeth inside the gums. This provides an ideal environment for the bacteria to breed and cause gum infection. For many people the symptoms are mild, with some bleeding but little pain or irritation, so it can be quite advanced before a patient detects it. That’s why it is so important to see your dentist regularly and NOT wait till it hurts! It can also be associated with bad breath.
Research reveals that diseased gums pump high levels of harmful bacterial components into the bloodstream. The skin of the oral cavity is known as “Oral Mucosa.” It is very rich with blood vessels and if outside bacteria and the toxins which they produce get into the blood stream, they are off and running throughout the body.
- To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before bedtime.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
- Floss daily, preferably before bedtime.
- Eat a healthy diet (avoid simple sugars and carbohydrates) and limit between-meal snacks.
- Schedule regular dental checkups at least twice each year, but for some people who already have gum disease, four times each year is better.
Also, watch for signs and symptoms of oral disease (redness in your saliva when you spit out toothpaste) and contact your dentist as soon as a problem arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
1. A Healthy Mouth Equals a Healthy Body. NaturalNews.com. August 10, 2008 by Alireza Panahpour, DDS
2. The Secret To Healthy Gums, or How to Keep Your Teeth for the Rest of Your Life. 2005. Dr. Ray G Behm Jr., DDS http://www.saveyourteeth.com