You might be surprised to learn how much your oral health affects your overall health. This is because even with proper brushing, your mouth is home to potentially dangerous bacteria that can not only cause issues such as gum disease, but can also lead to major health issues. As a result, it’s important to take the necessary steps to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Here we explain how your mouth could be making you sick, and how you can avoid oral issues.
Bacteria In Your Mouth Could Be Making You Sick
It’s hard to imagine, but there are over 6 billion bacteria living in your mouth. While some help keep you healthy, others can make you sick. Known as your oral microbiome, this community of bacteria is what causes that slimy, not so smooth feeling when you haven’t brushed your teeth. The bacteria are all over your teeth, cheeks, palate, and tongue, but also go all the way back to your tonsils. The moist environment of these areas is the ideal place for germs and bacteria to thrive.
Of the many types of bacteria found in your mouth, about 24 can make you sick. Since you are constantly swallowing, some of the bacteria land in your stomach. But it can also get into your bloodstream through your gums. Although the base of your teeth is protected by “biological width” the development of gum disease and oral infections breaks that protection down. When this happens bad bacteria can travel through your bloodstream to every part of your body.
Oral Bacteria Known As Pg.
One type of oral bacteria that can cause harm is Porphyromonas Gingivalis, or Pg. It has the ability to convert good microbes to bad. Depending on where it travels in your body, it can cause some serious issues including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
- Esophageal cancer
These issues can be life-altering or even life-threatening. These trouble-making bacteria can also break through the blood-brain barrier, leading to pathological changes including Alzheimer’s disease. Along with the risk of Alzheimer’s is the risk of dementia. It’s possible oral bacteria reach the brain via cranial nerves connected to the jaw, but it can also be through the bloodstream. This process could produce plaque linked to Alzheimer’s.
Oral Health And Your Heart
Another scary fact is that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than people who have healthy gums. Although the reason for this correlation isn’t yet fully understood, there is a good chance it relates to harmful oral bacteria entering your bloodstream. If these bacteria attach to fatty plaques in your heart’s blood vessels, it causes inflammation while increasing the risk for blood clots, which cause heart attacks.
Oral Health And Blood Sugar
It is not uncommon for your dentist to help diagnose diabetes. This is because diabetes can take a while to develop, and people might not seek help from their doctor right away. However many people with diabetes have periodontal disease, possibly because they are more prone to infections. Research has also found gum disease makes blood sugar levels harder to control. If you treat gum disease, you can also reduce diabetes symptoms. Because people tend to see their dentist twice a year, if periodontal disease, or chronic inflammation and gum infections are present, your dentist can suggest you see your family doctor to be tested for diabetes.
Oral Health And Breathing
If you have gum disease you could be at higher risk for respiratory infections. This includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you inhale the oral bacteria into your lungs it can lead to inflammation.
Oral Health And Fertility
If you plan to have children and you have gum disease it can take longer to get pregnant. On average women with gum disease can take up to two months more to get pregnant than women with healthy gums.
How To Improve Oral Health
If you want to decrease the risk for these conditions, you can make an effort to improve your oral health with these tips:
- Brush and floss: Brushing and flossing disorganize the biofilm on your teeth, so it makes it harder for bad bacteria to gather.
- Use less mouthwash: This can be a little controversial, but mouthwash can be too disruptive and disturb the good bacteria in your mouth. Rinsing with water after meals instead will flush away acids and create a buffer between your teeth and gums until it’s time to brush.
- Eat a healthier diet: This is a no-brainer as it will help your overall health. However, it’s good to know that a diet rich in fruits and veggies reduces the risk of gum disease and can even help ease progression. The fibre in fruits and vegetables produces more saliva so you can reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Improve oral health regimes when you have a health issue: If you’ve been diagnosed with health issues, regardless of what they are, improving your oral health regime can make a big difference in how well you manage the illness and its symptoms.
- Regular dental checkups and cleanings: You should also be sure to attend your regular dental checkups and cleanings. We will keep an eye on your oral health and can make recommendations to improve your oral health regimen at home. However, we can also spot ongoing issues that could indicate underlying health problems such as diabetes and oral cancers. Our exams include an oral health check to look for abnormalities that could indicate cancer.
Although the migration of oral bacteria in the body is normal, it makes sense to take the right steps to prevent the development of bad bacteria by improving oral care. As well, regular dental checkups can help spot ties between dental issues and sickness early on, so you can seek treatment sooner. If you would like to find out more about how your mouth could be making you sick and steps you can take to improve it, call today to schedule an appointment at 905-775-5307 or click here to request an appointment.