Does Oral Care Affect Your Overall Health?
I’m sure you’ve heard it said, the eyes are the windows to the soul.
But did you know that the mouth is the window to your overall health?
Your mouth acts as the gatekeeper to your immune system. It is the main entry point for food and drinks as well as bacteria and viruses.
In this blog, we will go over the connection between oral hygiene and overall health and daily things you can do to support a healthy immune system.
The Connection Between Oral Hygiene & Overall Health
The immune system is the superhero of your body, working 24/7 to kill off the “bad guys” like viruses, bad bacteria, and disease.
It does this by deploying white blood cells and antibodies to attack whatever presents a risk to your wellbeing. If you have a healthy immune system, mild inflammation usually goes unnoticed because your body does its job well. Pretty amazing stuff.
But just like any superhero, your immune system also has its limits. It doesn’t have an endless army of white blood cells. So when multiple problems occur with your body, your immune system can get overwhelmed which leads to bad bacteria taking the upper hand.
How Gum Disease Affects Your Immune System
Your mouth offers prime conditions to grow bacteria. Bacteria thrives on food debris that gets stuck around your teeth and gum line which is why dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing. These actions help keep bacteria at bay and your gums happy.
However, when oral care is neglected bacteria runs rampant causing inflammation around the gum line. This is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, the inflammation can lead to periodontal disease where bacteria attacks both the gumline and the bone that keeps your teeth in place.
When your body detects inflammation in the mouth, it sends a few white blood “soldiers” to help fight the bacteria off. While this is helpful, it also leaves your immune system compromised against any other threats that may enter the body. This was confirmed in a study done by the University of Pennsylvania that found bacteria that causes gingivitis “…subverts the immune system” resulting in your chances of getting sick and the period of time you remain sick to increase.
Bad Dental Hygiene & Other Problems
You might be asking yourself, “are there other health conditions that are linked to oral health?”
Yes, there are! Below are a few other health issues that are linked to oral care.
Cardiovascular disease. While more studies must be done to fully understand this connection, studies have shown that inflammation and infections in the mouth may contribute to clogged arteries and even strokes.
Endocarditis. This is when bacteria and germs spread from a part of your body, such as your mouth, through your bloodstream and attack certain areas of your heart. It typically causes infection in the inner lining of your heart chamber or valves also known as endocardium.
Pneumonia. Pneumonia or other respiratory issues is caused when harmful bacteria from your mouth is pulled into your lungs.
Pregnancy and birth complications. Premature birth and low birth weight can be linked to periodontitis.
Oral Care Supports the Immune System
Bacteria from your mouth doesn’t typically enter the bloodstream - especially if you are doing your part to help lessen the load for your immune system.
To maintain a healthy mouth and gut, health professionals recommend you do the following:
→ Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush.
→ Floss daily.
→ Use mouthwash after eating to remove lingering food debris.
→ Use a tongue scraper to remove odor-causing bacteria.
→ Replace your toothbrush every 3 months.
→ Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months.
→ Limit alcohol consumption.
→ Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks.
→ Drink plenty of water.
→ Minimize stress.
→ Eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.
→ Exercise regularly.
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