The Surprising Connection Between Your Oral Health and Your Overall Well-being

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Gif from the movie Life of Pie
Gif from the movie Life of Pi

One legend tells the story of young Krishna, a Hindu God, eating fallen apples although he was told not to. He got some mud in his mouth while he was doing it. His mother wanted to see for herself that he didn’t obey her and made him open his mouth. Inside she could see the whole universe of moving and unmoving creation, the earth and its mountains and oceans, the moon and the stars, and all the planets and regions. She forgave him for eating fallen apples and then she instantly forgot about what she just saw.

While we love the deep meanings of the legend, we noticed it applies to our daily lives in a slightly different, but very important way. The more we learn about our bodies, the more we understand the deep connection between the health of our mouth and our overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, while most people wouldn’t neglect their overall health, they somehow let their oral health slide way down in their priority list, without realizing these actions could actually cause many serious health problems. Just like Krishna’s mother, we forget what we have to take care of, the moment we close our mouths.   

 

Everything is connected


It’s a pity most of us take care of our oral health just so we can have fresh breath and avoid going to the dentist. But it's important to realize what’s going on inside our bodies and how the well-being of our teeth and gums can affect the health of our whole body.

Things that people don’t consider threatening like cavities and gum problems, for example, could be related to the heart condition, microbiome or even the brain health. Teeth are organs that we tend to take for granted but they have crucial importance to the proper functioning of the whole body.

 

Where is the mouth-body connection?


So what exactly is the mouth-body connection? Well, our body is an ecosystem and our mouth is the main entrance to it. There are all kinds of filters and protective mechanisms inside our mouth to keep harmful things from entering our body.

Each tooth is surrounded by a tight girdle of fibers pulling the gums tightly around the neck of the tooth and not allowing unwanted trespassing elements to make their way into our system and attacking our immune system. When we take good care of our mouth, we help this fiber seal be tight, so it can do its job and keep us safe. If we neglect our oral health, the seal is weakened and we are practically opening the door for all kinds of things to enter our bloodstream and that could be a serious problem. If it comes to that, the following issues become very likely:

  • Infection: Once in the bloodstream, bacteria that enters from the mouth can travel anywhere else in the body.
  • Injury: Bacteria in the blood is likely to turn into proteins or exotoxins that can injure tissue even permanently.
  • Inflammation: When harmful bacteria gets into the bloodstream the body reacts the intrusion with a powerful immune response, the body temperature rises and an inflammatory reaction is produced. With the presence of gum disease, these bacteria are constantly getting into the blood and can even cause chronic inflammation.
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    Diseases we can develop as a result of oral infections

    With the constant advancements in science and the new methods of identifying the causes of various diseases, scientists keep discovering more and more links between our oral and overall health. Recent studies have found bacteria that entered the body through the mouth to be responsible for the following diseases: 
  • IBS
    Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and attack the friendly bacteria in your gut. And that's when your digestive issues begin to worsen.
  • Breast cancer
    Women may be 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer due to lack of good oral care.
  • Prostate cancer
    Research has shown that men with indicators of periodontal disease and prostatitis have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of these conditions.
  • Diabetes
    Serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.
  • Weight gain
    Oral health, diabetes, and obesity are intertwined and inflammation is at the core of  this complex interaction
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia
    Research shows gum disease bacteria lipopolysaccharides (the surface of the bacterium) in samples from people suffering from dementia and none of the people who do not have the condition.
  • Cardiovascular disease including stroke, heart attack, infective endocarditis, and thickening of the arteries
    When bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation.
  • Low birthweight and premature birth
    Periodontal health also plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy. Research suggests that pregnant women with gum disease are at higher risk for pre-term and low birth weight deliveries.
  • Bacterial pneumonia
    Bacterial infections in the chest are believed to be caused by breathing droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    Those who had moderate to severe periodontitis had more than twice the risk of RA compared to those with mild or no periodontitis

    Tips on keeping your mouth healthy



  • Hopefully, by now you are convinced to take better care of your oral health? It’s important to remember that your mouth is literally the door to your body and you should help it protect your body from unwanted trespassers. Oral care is not just about having a fresh breath and delaying the visits to the dentist. So here are a few tips on how to improve your mouth's ability to keep you healthy. 

  • Brush after meals (or at least twice a day) and floss at least 2-3 times a week.
  • Eat foods that promote tooth remineralization, which is the natural process your teeth fight cavities. (Raw and grass-fed cheese and butter, Eggs, Natto, Grass-fed meats and poultry, dark, leafy greens like swiss chard and spinach, wild-caught fish, apples, celery, avocado, green and white tea).
  • Seeing your dentist regularly is one of the most efficient forms of prevention. It’s like arresting the criminals before they committed the crime.
  • There are some superfoods that are helpful. *
  • If you are planning to get pregnant or already are, let your dentist know. Good dental health is going to be crucial in the healthy development of your baby.
  • Make sure you can clean all teeth in your mouth the right way.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed. (or up to 6 months if you are brushing with Nano-b)
  • And, of course, avoid tobacco and alcohol use
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    What we are trying to say in simple words is:
    Love your smile and your body and take care of them!

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