Did you know your oral health can effect the health of your whole body?

Did you know that the condition of your teeth and gums has a direct impact on your overall health?  Numerous studies have shown strong associations between oral health and a variety of health concerns.  These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and complications in pregnancy.  In this blog post, we would like to explore a few of these connections between your oral health and general health and discuss ways to keep our teeth and gums healthy to minimize these risks.

Like many parts of the digestive system, our mouths are loaded with all sorts of bacteria.  Most of them can be considered good bacteria, and keep the body’s natural defenses strong.  But some of the bacteria in the mouth are harmful and contribute to gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis and periodontitis.  This inflammation produces different chemicals that can be sent throughout the body where they can cause other issues affecting your heart and health.

The leading cause of death in Americans today is heart disease.  While many factors contributing to health disease are well known, including high blood pressure and smoking, periodontitis is a much lesser known contributor.  In multiple studies in many different populations of people, the risk of cardiovascular disease was increased in individuals that also suffered from periodontal disease.  Researchers have found that when bacteria are infecting our oral tissues and gums, they contribute to the development of atherosclerotic plaque which over time can harden our arteries.  Over time, the blockage of these arteries can result in stroke or heart attack.

Another association of periodontal disease is Diabetes Mellitus.  Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases where the body is unable to regulate the blood’s sugar content.   Unregulated blood sugar can cause a number of complications, ranging from kidney disease, ulcers on the feet or even permanent blindness and death.  Recent studies have shown a connection between oral health and the development and control of this devastating disease.  Periodontal disease in the gums has been shown to release signals in the body that alter the ability of insulin to control blood sugar.  By reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth with antibiotics, studies have shown an increase in the control of diabetes.

With all this new research showing the negative health outcomes from oral bacteria and infection, what can we do to lower our chances of heart disease and diabetes?  For starters, the most important action to take is good oral hygiene.   This involves thorough flossing at least once a day and brushing at least twice a day.  Use of an electronic toothbrush has also been shown to decrease the “bad bacteria” in our mouths.  Regular dental cleanings and exams are also a crucial part of keeping your teeth healthy and in the diagnosis of gingivitis and periodontal disease. If diagnosed, gingivitis and periodontal disease are treatable conditions with a variety of options.

At Dentistry in Paradise, our goal is to not only keep your teeth white and healthy, but improve your health and overall well –being.

Author
Kevin Miller DDS Dentist located in Goleta and Santa Barbara, CA

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