Have you been trying to get fit this year, but aren’t seeing the rewards you expected? Exercise can help improve your health, but if you have gum disease, you might find it harder to get healthy than people with good oral health.
Because of the complex interaction between your oral health and your overall health, gum disease can actually make it harder for you to start and maintain an exercise routine. And even if you do, you won’t see the benefit that other people do.
Fighting Infections Takes Energy
Most people don’t think of gum disease as an infection, but it is. It’s a chronic infection in which your body is constantly trying to prevent bacteria from taking over part of your body. And although the infection is localized in your mouth, the bacteria are actually traveling throughout your body via your blood.
Fighting this infection takes resources. Think how much your energy gets sapped when you have a cold or the flu. Now imagine that you are actually always losing that much energy fighting gum disease. No wonder it’s hard for you to get out to the gym every day. No wonder you can’t do as long a workout as you want. And no wonder it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
Gum Disease Leads to Diabetes
Another key is the relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Gum disease and diabetes tend to worsen each other, and diabetes can really lower your energy levels. High blood sugar thickens the blood, reducing blood flow. Low blood sugar means your body just doesn’t have the energy it needs. Diabetes is associated with systemic inflammation, which also inflames blood vessels, restricting blood flow further. As part of a systemic inflammatory response, immune cells are drawn to the brain, which can make you feel fatigued. It’s important to note that gum disease itself is also associated with systemic inflammation.
Diabetes can also be associated with other energy-sapping conditions, such as anemia, low thyroid function, and low testosterone.
Gum disease bacteria can travel to your heart, causing infections there. At the extreme, this can lead to heart failure, but long before that, you may experience excess stress on your heart. If you notice your heart is having trouble keeping up with your exercise routine, talk to your doctor, then schedule an appointment with a dentist.
Diminished Benefit from Exercise
Although you may not notice it, gum disease may also be cheating you of the rejuvenating benefits of exercise.
One of the amazing benefits of exercise is that it can extend your life by resetting the clock in your cells. This clock is related to the telomeres in your DNA, small tails that are crucial to the replication of your genetic material. With each duplication, these get shorter, and when they get too short, your cells can’t reproduce and they die. People who exercise regularly see these tails lengthen.
Unless you have gum disease. Research has shown that people with gum disease don’t see their telomeres extend the way others do.
Have a Healthier Tomorrow
We understand that going to the dentist might not be your idea of cross training, but it’s just as vital for ensuring you get optimal benefits from your exercise routine. It will make you healthier, happier, and can even make you look younger.