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The advent of the internet and the new speeds at which information has spread to the general public has created a scientific awakening of sorts. This is certainly true with details about your oral health and how it can impact your overall wellness.
The average dental patient may have caught a television show or a video on the internet about how oral health can go as far as to affect your heart (since bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart valves). Some patients might have crossed paths with this information and brushed it off as merely a myth, but the science is in: your mouth is the entry point for several different bacterias that can cause or worsen disease.
Now you might be wondering, if the mouth is an entry point for bacteria, infection, and inflammation, can my dental health affect my immune system? The short answer is yes. There are many bacteria associated with the mouth, and each has an immune suppression effect.
Here we will discuss the most recent information on oral health and the immune system and what you can do to stop damage from occurring.
How Bad Oral Health Affects the Immune System
To best understand your mouth’s importance to your overall health, imagine your mouth as the beginning of a long and winding road. For bacteria, the mouth acts as the road, gateway, or map to the rest of your body. Mouth bacteria makes your gums sensitive and bleed, the bacteria-infected blood enters your bloodstream, and the bacteria is carried throughout your body. Periodontal disease and other infectious diseases can work together to lower the immune system, increasing susceptibility to things like the common cold or the flu (virus).
What Is the Link Between Oral Bacteria and Lung Disease?
Studies have shown that bacteria in your mouth can also be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia. While this information may sound quite alarming, there is nothing to be overly concerned about even if you experience minor periodontal disease, as this new information only emphasizes the important link between maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits and supporting the rest of your body’s health.
Can I Boost My Immune System With Good Oral Health?
While brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day won’t directly prevent the spread of viruses or bacteria, it can certainly provide great support to your oral health. By supporting your body’s ability to fight off bacteria, you can significantly reduce your risk of immunosuppression from periodontal disease. It is also very important to see your dentist regularly, at least once every six months. Remember: proactive care is better than reactive care! If you are an older patient, ask your doctor how to support your microbial balance more efficiently.