Every day more medical researchers publish reports indicating a strong connection between our oral health and our body, linking periodontal disease and internal disease.
Add 6.4 Years to Your Life
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can add 6.4 years to your life, according to Dr Michael Roizen, Cleveland Internist and author of the award-winning books RealAge and You: Staying Young. Roizen suggests that, “Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and that bacterium can travel into the bloodstream, putting a person’s health at risk.”
MOUTH-BODY BACTERIA TRANSFER
Many people believe that what happens in our mouth stays in our mouth. Our mouth is typically viewed as separate from the rest of our body. In truth, oral bacteria enter the body in a number of ways. Bad oral bacteria can be swallowed. Because the body has been in cleanse cycle all night and saliva hasn’t been circulating, the highest levels of oral bacteria are ingested when we take our first swig of water in the morning.
Because it is lined with mucus membranes and has a high concentration of capillaries near the surface, the mouth is one of the body’s most absorbent organs. According to Journal of Periodontology, “The mouth can be a major source of chronic or permanent release of toxic bacterial components in the bloodstream during normal oral functions.” This phenomenon is exacerbated when oral plaque hardens to tartar and rubs against our gums. Our thinned gums allow bad oral bacteria to enter our veins and arteries more easily. The presence of oral bacteria in our circulatory system can trigger the immune response of inflammation. The swelling caused by inflammation restricts our cardiovascular flow and promotes aging and disease.
This is one of the many ways that current research is connecting bad oral bacteria with a variety of health issues including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory problems, pregnancy complications, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even memory loss. “Physicians are taking a more holistic approach to their patients’ overall health,” says Sally Cram, DDS, PC, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. A recent study found that sufferers of advanced periodontal disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition as well.
PERIODONTAL DISEASE EPIDEMIC
Findings from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that, “One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease. The study estimates that 47.2 percent of the US population or 64.7 million adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.” Mind you, these statistics don’t reflect the population who has gingivitis. Co-author Robert Genco, DDS, PhD, Distinguished Professor at The State University of New York at Buffalo and Past President of the American Association for Dental Research and the International Association for Dental Research, believes these findings elevate periodontal disease as a public health concern. “We now know that periodontal disease is one of the most prevalent non-communicable chronic diseases in our population,” says Genco.
PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE
The good news about this relatively new found connection between our mouth and our body is that we may be a lot more in control of our health than we previously thought. While genetics and other environmental factors may also play a role in the development of these diseases, oral hygiene is something we can control. The ADA says, “Given the potential link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, prevention may be an important step in maintaining overall health.”
- Eat well: consume lots of veggies and avoid sugars and simple carbohydrates that feed oral bacteria.
- Floss and use brush picks to remove debris and plaque between teeth.
- Brush 2-3x / day and swish after meals with Essential Oxygen Organic Brushing Rinse.
- Swish and brush first thing to get a rid of excess morning bacteria before swallowing, eating or drinking.
One thing is clear: the body and mouth are intricately entwined. “Your body can affect your mouth and likewise, your mouth can affect your body,” says Dr. Pamela McClain, DDS, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “Taking good care of your teeth and gums can really help you live well longer,” McClain adds. Proper dental care won’t just save your smile; it may save your life!