Did you know that the health of your mouth has a dramatic influence on the health of your body? According to Dr. Donald Ratcliffe, chairman of the department of dental medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, “the mouth is a portal into the rest of the body.”
While you may be keeping up your oral hygiene efforts for a brighter smile and fresher breath, you should know that you are getting a deeper level of benefits every time you brush. Research consistently shows a link between oral bacteria and inflammation to other diseases throughout the body. In some cases, it is a cause and effect relationship. But it all cases, if you maintain optimal oral health, you’ll lower your risk for developing serious overall health conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes to premature birth and arthritis! Here’s a closer look at each:
- Heart Disease
- While there is not a confirmed explanation for the relationship, studies have proven that patients with gum disease have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Most likely, it is due to the inflammation that gum disease causes within the body and the fact that bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and affect the health of your heart.
- When it comes to dental health and diabetes, it’s a two-way street. When diabetes goes untreated or unmanaged, blood sugar levels are higher, which in turn increases bacteria growth in the mouth. In addition, poor oral health and worsen or aggravate diabetes and make it harder to keep your blood glucose under control. It has been found that diabetes also alters the blood vessels and restricts proper blood flow, which can weaken the gums and open the door for infection.
- Premature Births
- Hormones can play a notable role in the gum health of pregnant women; hence the term “pregnancy gingivitis.” However, if a gum infection of the mother-to-be goes untreated, it can lead to premature birth. In fact, women with gum disease are 5 to 7 times more likely to give birth before full term. For the sake of you and your baby’s health, don’t skip your routine dental cleanings during pregnancy.
- While research is still ongoing about the relationship between oral bacteria and arthritis, there have been some studies that report that mouth bacteria can cause or worsen knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In a 2012 study by Case Western Reserve University, researchers tested the synovial fluid within the joints of 36 people with knee arthritis. Five of the patients had gum bacteria in their fluid. For two of the patients, the bacteria found in the joint fluid was a genetic match to bacteria found in the mouth.
How long has it been since you’ve seen a dentist? If your absence has created anxiety, don’t let that stop you. Park South Dentistry offers sedation dentistry along with compassionate care and comfortable treatments to serve you best. Let us help you keep a healthy mouth and healthy body!