Bacteria in our bodies is not always a bad thing. For example, certain bacteria in the gut actually enhance the process of digestion and help to keep the digestive system operating efficiently.
However, some bacteria is not good. When too much bacteria invade the body, the immune system becomes overburdened. This is why an untreated cut can become infected.
The body’s natural defense response, white blood cells, aren’t always able to conquer infection at certain levels. This is when your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic – to give the immune system added reinforcements.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection in the mouth. This is where oral bacteria have amassed to the point that the immune system cannot manage infectious growth. While gum disease destroys tissues in the mouth and the structures that support teeth, this infectious bacteria doesn’t always stay confined to the mouth.
The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. As it travels throughout the body, it can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere. Over the years, the bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to everything from stroke to preterm babies to diabetes.
One of the first correlations between oral bacteria and other serious health problems was found in heart disease. An excellent explanation of how this occurs can be found in Harvard Medical School’s newsletter: Harvard Health Publications.
They explain the sequence of events as: “In people with periodontitis (erosion of tissue and bone that support the teeth), chewing and toothbrushing release bacteria into the bloodstream. Several species of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart and elsewhere. This plaque can lead to heart attack.
“Oral bacteria could also harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing toxins that resemble proteins found in artery walls or the bloodstream. The immune system’s response to these toxins could harm vessel walls or make blood clot more easily. It is also possible that inflammation in the mouth revs up inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.”
Through numerous studies and years of research, we now know that your oral health is closely related to your overall health. By achieving and maintaining a healthy smile, you’ll be doing your body good!
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of gum disease, please know that it will only worsen without treatment. Common signs are: gums that bleed easily when brushing, tender gums, gum recession, frequent bad breath, gums that darken in color from a healthy pink to red, and pus pockets that form near the base of some teeth.
Gum disease is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. And, studies have shown that the loss of natural teeth compromises the digestive process, social confidence and one’s lifespan.
Don’t delay care. Make sure you are current on your twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings and be committed to your at-home oral hygiene regimen. Twice daily brushing and daily flossing is necessary to keep oral bacteria at a manageable level.
Ready for a clean mouth that supports your overall health? Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for more information about an examination and cleaning. Or, ask to begin with a no-cost consultation.