Dentists frequently use the phrase “oral health,” but oral health doesn’t stop at your throat. The health of your teeth, gums and mouth affects the health of your entire body. This is the concept of oral systemic health. Research supports the idea that oral health affects your whole body, and poor oral health may be linked to numerous health problems including heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
The link between oral and general health occurs through bacteria. Gum disease is common, occurring in mild form in 3 out of 4 Americans. Thirty percent of people with mild gum disease, called gingivitis, show signs of the more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis. It’s all about bacteria, which comes from food being left behind when you brush, though in some people, gum disease is simply genetic. The bacteria in your mouth can spread to other parts of your body.
Oral health and your lungs
Mouth bacteria mixes with saliva, and this mixture can get into your lungs when you inhale. This can lead to lung infections or pneumonia, which can be very serious, especially in older people or people with weakened immune systems.
Mouth bacteria spreads through your bloodstream
The bacteria in your mouth from gum disease gets into your blood stream, and as you probably know, your blood delivers nutrients to your entire body. Unfortunately, bacteria can be delivered along with those nutrients, which could cause infections anywhere in your body.
Inflammation can help or harm
Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting infection by bringing extra blood and white cells to an infected area. Inflammation of the gums is one of the first signs of gum disease, and when the problem spreads to other areas of the body, inflammation can occur anywhere. Too much inflammation can cause problems or complicate already existing problems.
Keep your mouth healthy for the sake of your body
Your whole body health is a good reason to take care of gum disease at the first sign that you may have it. No matter how well you brush and floss, gum disease can still happen, so if you have swollen, inflamed or bleeding gums, tell your dentist immediately.
Regular dental checkups are important because the dentist may detect problems earlier than you can, and early treatment is much easier than later treatment.
If you would like to learn more about how dentistry can help you protect you health, please schedule a free consultation.