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How Oral Health Impacts Your Immune System

July 17, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — laplatadental @ 2:23 pm
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As Maryland and the country continue to grapple with the Coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important to protect one’s health. Scientists and public health experts warn that senior citizens and people with underlying health issues are at greater risk of being affected by COVID-19. What can you do to stay healthy and maintain a robust immune system? While it may not seem obvious, practicing excellent oral hygiene and looking after your oral health can actually contribute to a healthy body as well. Curious to know more? Keep reading to learn how oral health impacts the body and immune system and why regularly visiting your dentist for a preventive checkup is so important.

How Is Oral Health Linked to Overall Health?

The mouth can be thought of as the doorway to the body. Not only does food enter the body through the mouth to become nourishment, but bacteria can too. In fact, research suggests that oral bacteria and gum inflammation – a common symptom of gum disease – may play a role in certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.

Gum disease occurs when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is allowed to accumulate on teeth and harden. When the tissue around teeth become infected due to plaque buildup, scientists believe harmful oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the inflamed gums. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can spread to other areas of the body, such as the heart.

In this way, the mouth can act as the weak link in the immune system if proper oral hygiene is neglected.  

Does Gum Disease Contribute to Other Diseases?

Yes. In addition to heart problems, gum disease has been linked to many other serious health issues, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Certain types of cancer 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Why Regular Dental Checkups Are So Important

As you can see, keeping your smile in great shape is critical for both your oral and overall health. In addition to brushing twice a day and flossing daily, you should also visit your dentist every six months for a routine checkup.

Here are a few reasons why biannual trips to the dentist are so important:

  • Professional teeth cleaning – During each dental checkup, your dentist or dental hygienist will use special tools to remove any harmful plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Preventive care – Dental cleanings often include preventive treatments – like fluoride application – that can help defend against cavities and other future problems.  
  • Early Detection – Your dentist will also carefully examine your mouth for signs of trouble, such as cavities, gum disease, damaged fillings and even early signs of oral cancer.

Practicing excellent oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist regularly will help boost your oral health and, in turn, your immune system. For more preventive oral care tips, do not hesitate to reach out to your local dentist.

About the Author

Dr. Mark Hochman has over 40 years of experience providing comprehensive oral care. At La Plata Dental, Dr. Hochman is always happy to share his knowledge with patients about the importance of preventive dentistry treatments, such as sealants. To learn more about how oral health impacts overall health and the immune system, visit the La Plata Dental website or call 240-349-2439.

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