Long before the pandemic began, it was known that oral wellness is an advantage to overall health. By having a healthy mouth, the body’s ability to keep its immune system in check is supported. When a mouth is overwhelmed with bacteria, it increases the burden of inflammation to the body’s immune system.
For example, studies have shown that some inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Prostatitis (swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland), are greatly improved when periodontal treatment improves the health of gum tissues. This is thought to occur when the load of inflammation is lowered in the mouth, which enables the immune system to function more efficiently elsewhere.
The bacteria in the mouth, or “oral cavity”, is intricately connected to your overall health; so much so that “bad” oral bacteria can disrupt the healthy balance in the digestive system. This bacteria comes from oral plaque, which is a cesspool of sorts that is formed from bacterial accumulation.
As a layer of biofilm, plaque coats teeth and gums. It is the sticky film you feel in your mouth when you wake up, during which time the bacteria has had an opportunity to amass during sleep.
Without drinking water or having saliva flow active during sleep, oral bacteria are able to reproduce at a rather rapid pace. This is why it is advised to brush your teeth in the morning, to remove or greatly reduce as much oral bacteria as possible by sweeping away the icky film buildup.
This is also why you should brush thoroughly at night. By removing the buildup that has occurred during the day, you help to control the bacteria levels that exist in the first place.
You may be surprised that unremoved plaque can harden into a substance known as tartar within just a day or two. Sometimes referred to as calculus, this is a cement-hard mass that can no longer be brushed or flossed away. In this form, it must be removed by dental professionals using special tools.
Once tartar is on teeth, this mass of bacteria continues to grow, eating into tooth enamel and gum tissues. As the bacteria become more than the immune system can manage, the gum tissues become red and inflamed. This is the beginning of gum disease.
As the growth of bacteria penetrate below the gum line, they attack the structures that support teeth.
Although gum disease can begin without obvious signs or symptoms, the most commonly noticed are:
• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Seeing blood in the sink when brushing
• Receded gums
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus pockets on gum tissues
• Sores in the mouth
• Persistent bad breath
As the inflammation progresses, the gum tissues bleed easily when brushing teeth. Bad breath becomes a persistent problem and the gums are sore and swollen in some areas. At this point, the gums are infected and brushing cannot undo the onslaught of bacterial growth.
Eventually, the infectious bacteria can cause pus pockets to form on gums. Because of the damage to gum tissues and bone structures that support teeth, some teeth will loosen and may require removal.
The problems are not just cordoned off in the mouth. Through tears in diseased gum tissues, these infectious bacteria of periodontal disease are able to enter the bloodstream. The inflammation can activate destructive pathways for serious (and even deadly) diseases.
For example, the bacteria of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) has been found to trigger the onset or worsen the development of:
Stroke, Coronary Artery Disease
Preterm & Low Birth Weight Babies
Some Cancers (including oral and pancreatic)
Impotency, Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Prostatitis (elevated PSA levels)
As our nation battles the surge of COVID, we need to do all we can to support a healthy body. We can do this by maintaining a healthy mouth, which is actually rather easy.
Brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes per brushing. Brush your tongue with your toothbrush once a day (especially towards the back where most bacteria are embedded) and floss daily. Keep your mouth moist and limit sugar.
If you’re prone to having a dry mouth, use an alcohol-free oral rinse as an added measure to minimize bacterial buildup. Avoid or greatly limit caffeine, alcohol and smoking, which are all drying to oral tissues. Also, many medications and even some herbal supplements have a side effect of oral dryness. Be especially conscious of your water intake during the day if you take any of these.
However, even twice-daily brushing and daily flossing are not assurance that you will avoid developing gum disease. Have regular dental check-ups and cleanings to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, or minimize those that may arise between visits.
In our Shelby Twp dental office, we want our patients to enjoy the benefits of a healthy, confident smile. If you are seeking a dentist who has a reputation for a gentle touch, exceptional skills, and utilizes advance technology, begin with a free consultation in our private consultation room. During this time, I’ll discuss options that may be best for you and address any concerns about dental fear, costs, or treatment time.
To begin, call 586-739-2155 or tap here for an online request.