Just as there is a blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from toxins in the blood, there is barrier between the gums and teeth and the rest of the body. This barrier breaks down a little bit every time there is inflammation or infection in the mouth, triggering disease and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Teeth are critical to the proper functioning of the whole body. What happened in the mouth, happens in the body.
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, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
In addition, certain medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.
An unhealthy mouth, especially if you have gum disease, may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor.
The relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Good oral health is integral to general health. And the idea is to catch the oral disease in its earliest phases because things like gum disease can’t get better, they can only be arrested in their current state. Remember seeing your dentist is one of the best forms of prevention. Call our office to schedule your next dental checkup (941) 951-7711.