The Mouth is a Mirror of Health and Disease in the Body
We all know the phrase, “mind-body connection,” but what about “mouth-body connection?” Your mouth is the gateway to your body. A healthy mouth and a healthy body go hand in hand.
Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that cause oral infections, tooth decay, and gum disease.
In a healthy mouth with no infection, the seal between the gum and teeth and bone is tight and the pathway between mouth-bacteria and the bloodstream is closed. When an infection is present, the seal is weakened and bacteria can get past the gums and into the bloodstream causing other systemic diseases. These are some of them...…..
1. Cardiovascular Disease - As bacteria from the mouth travel through the body via the bloodstream, they can cause arteries to create plaque and harden, called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes problems with blood flow which can lead to hypertension, blood clot formation, and a stroke or heart attack.
2. Endocarditis - Repeated exposure of the inner linings of the heart to bacteria from the mouth can cause inflammation of the heart tissue called endocarditis which can be fatal.
Respiratory Infection - Bacteria from the mouth can enter the lungs through breathing. This can lead to respiratory infections like pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and can worsen existing conditions.
3. Diabetes – Mouth infections can complicate diabetes as bacteria weaken the body’s ability to use insulin and convert sugar in the blood to energy. This leads to higher than normal blood sugar levels and increase in blood pressure.
4. Kidney Disease - The bacteria from gum disease weaken the immune system, increasing the likelihood of infection. People who have poor oral hygiene are more likely to have kidney disease.
5. Osteoporosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis - Gum disease contributes to the loss of bone tissue not only in the mouth but throughout the body, including the hips, back, and wrists.
6. Dementia & Alzheimer’s - Bacteria in the blood affect the brain, too. When the nerve cells in the brain are repeatedly exposed, they can die leading to the memory loss present in dementia and Alzheimer’s.
7. Pregnancy Complications - Women who have oral disease have increased risk of complications for the birth of their child, including premature birth, low birth weight, and infection in their newborn, which is due to bacteria in the blood traveling to the developing infant.
Dental health is part of a bigger picture of whole-body wellness. Research is providing evidence of the connections between the mouth and some of society’s most costly and life-threatening systemic diseases. This underscores the importance of looking after the mouth as a tool for preventive health.