A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania confirmed what dentists have understood for a long time: gum disease is linked to a range of systemic health issues and a depressed immune system.
There have been significant links developed in the last ten years, and as it turns out, it’s all based on an immune system imbalance called dysbiosis. The harmful oral bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis do something diabolical: they block your immune cells from killing while preserving their ability to cause inflammation.
The effect feeds the dysbiotic microbes, which in turn weakens the immune system further in a vicious cycle. This link between microbe and immune system can have a devastating impact on your overall health.
The Vicious Cycle
The connection actually goes both ways, with poor oral health harming the immune system and a poor immune system leading to poor oral health. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of oral hygiene.
Why do these two seemingly disparate functions of the body have such a strong connection? Well, the mouth is a highly vascular area, which means it contains a lot of blood vessels. That’s why what you put in your mouth or do to your mouth easily affects the rest of your body.
Chewing tobacco is a great example of this. The nicotine might enter your body through the mouth and gums, but its effects are seen throughout the body. The same is true of poor oral hygiene.
Bacteria that build up in your mouth can get to your heart and other parts of your body, resulting in a host of systemic problems. These include debilitating conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
But it’s not just poor oral health that leads to these conditions. People with systemic problems often see those problems manifested in their mouths. The fact is, it can and does go both ways.
The Importance of Prevention
Fortunately, you can disrupt this cycle and defeat those oral bacteria by taking care of your oral hygiene today. See us regularly for routine cleanings and preventative screenings to ensure that everything looks good. You can avoid the complications of periodontal disease by containing the problem if it crops up.
Another key strategy in keeping those bacteria at bay is a healthy diet. Avoid high-sugar beverages and foods, which attract Porphyromonas gingivalis like magnets. Focus on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and dairy products, while avoiding candy, sodas, sports drinks, and other sugary choices.
Why believe what we have to say? Well, in addition to our initial schooling, we regularly take continuing education classes. We actually train each other on what we’ve learned from these education opportunities. Dr. Wagner and I focus on furthering our diagnostic and clinical skills, while our hygienists focus on hygiene-related education. That means we’re always operating with cutting-edge knowledge, and incorporating state-of-the-art technology in your treatment.
There’s a reason we call ourselves Modern Dental!
To protect your mouth and your immune system, be sure to keep up your visits with us. Take care of your smiles!
~ Dr. Wagner