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The Connection Between Oral Health & General Health

by Best Natural Smile on Monday, February 5, 2018 3:20 PM

As a leading Santa Monica dentist, at Best Natural Smile, it’s our priority to ensure that all of our patients achieve a happy, bright smile. Our commitment to excellent oral hygiene isn’t just because of the sparkling smile, fresh breath, and healthy gums that our patients enjoy. In recent studies, scientists have also learned that oral health and overall health may be more closely connected than you’d think! Learn about the connection between oral hygiene and your overall wellbeing below.

What Unhealthy Gums Can Mean

Nearly half of all Americans experience periodontal (gum) disease, which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Unfortunately, people who are diagnosed with periodontal disease are also at a higher risk of contracting a number of diseases including:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Premature Birth

What’s the Link Between Mouth and Body?

The link between gum disease and problems throughout the body is actually pretty simple. Both share a similar reaction to harmful stimuli, otherwise known as the inflammatory response. Inflammation is a process by which your immune system responds to damage or disease in your tissues often characterized by pain, redness, and swelling. Although inflammation can help heal the body, it can also lead to more serious problems if it becomes chronic.

Why the Connection?

Because gum disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are all associated with the same type of inflammatory response, moderate to severe cases of gum disease tend to increase the level of systemic inflammation overall. This means that an unnoticed condition can flare into a more serious disease when inflammation occurs. Plus, the same strains of bacteria found in inflamed gum tissue can also appear in the arterial plaques of those suffering from cardiovascular disease.

How it Works

Although research is still being conducted, several studies suggest that oral bacteria may enter the bloodstream, form into clumps, and trigger systemic inflammation which in turn causes cell and tissue swelling that narrows the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots. Alternatively, the byproducts of oral bacteria may also be released into the bloodstream triggering the production of substances called CRPs (C-reactive proteins) in the liver. These proteins tend to inflame blood vessels and promote the formation of clots, possibly leading to clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.

What You Can Do

Because chronic inflammation is a systemic problem, the best way to begin controlling it is via a whole-body approach. At Best Natural Smile, our amazing periodontist Dr. Alex Lopez treats minor cases of gum disease with root cleanings and the application of antimicrobials, and in more extreme cases, conventional or laser gum surgery is an option. We also work with all of our patients to develop an effective oral hygiene routine to practice at home in between visits.

Improve Your Healthy Today

If you think that you may be suffering from gum disease or would like to learn more about the ways in which you can improve your oral health and overall wellbeing, visit Best Natural Smile in Santa Monica today or schedule an appointment here!

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