Science has shown us there is an unquestionable link between overall health and oral health. Poor metabolic health like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have been associated with poor oral health (gum disease and cavities). Our body works hard to fight off things that may compromise its well-being and you can protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your overall health and oral health.
The Bacteria Connection
Cavities are the leading cause of pain and tooth loss. When this bacteria, known as Streptococcus mutans, grows out of control, complications can begin. They are caused by bacteria in your mouth turning the sugar in your foods and drinks into acid that breaks up the tough enamel layer of your teeth. Along with proper oral hygiene, nutrition is one of your best defenses to prevent and reduce dental cavities.
The mouth is the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. It is warm, moist, dark, and has the nutrients for bacteria especially when you fail to brush or floss well daily or food residue is left behind. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease. If you take certain medications that reduce saliva flow this can add to the problem.
Gingivitis is the early and mild form of gum disease, and if left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe condition. Periodontitis involves inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth, including the bone, and can lead to tooth loss if not managed properly.
Research suggests a link between periodontitis and heart disease. The idea is that the oral bacteria involved in periodontitis can enter the bloodstream, potentially contributing to the development of fatty plaques in the arteries. These plaques can lead to blockages, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
The inflammatory response triggered by oral bacteria may contribute to swelling of blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many health conditions, like heart disease.
It’s important to note that while there is some evidence supporting the association between gum disease and heart health, more research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship. Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, is crucial for preventing and managing gum disease.
If you’re concerned about the connection between your dental health and heart health, please make an appointment with your dentist and your primary healthcare provider for personalized advice. Regular dental check-ups and maintaining overall health are key components of a holistic approach to well-being. You can read more about The Important Connection: Your Dental Health and Heart Health in our previous blog post.
How can we prevent this from happening in the first place? Glad you asked.
Nutrition has a lot to do with the type and quantity of bacteria that live and grow in your mouth. When you consume foods containing sugar, whether in the form of dietary sugar or as refined carbohydrates (like white flour and rice, packaged baked goods, canned and chemically preserved goods, and processed vegetable oils) it creates the ‘best’ environment for the bacteria that causes cavities to grow.
Protect your oral health and your whole body by having your teeth professionally cleaned with routine visits at our dental office. If you are experiencing bleeding gums, discomfort, or any difficulty chewing, you should seek a professional immediately. Contact our North Canton dental office at 330-494-6305 to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment today.