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How Does My Oral Health Affect My Immune System?

March 13, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — laplatadental @ 7:12 pm
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Practicing proper oral hygiene at home is a crucial part of maintaining excellent oral health. In addition to preventing tooth loss and miserable toothaches, cleaning your mouth thoroughly on a daily basis can prevent the accumulation of harmful bacteria that can spread to other parts of the body. Here’s how brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly can help keep you healthy for life.

Tooth Decay and Gum Disease Can Spread

Tooth decay and gum disease are infections that can do serious harm if left untreated. Tooth decay begins when bacteria begin to eat their way through the enamel of a tooth. While it can be reversed when it is still in the early stage of a pre-cavity spot, it will only get worse without professional dental intervention when a cavity forms. If allowed to continue, it will infect the pulp inside the tooth, causing a nasty toothache. The pulp contains blood vessels, which may give these bacteria access to other parts of the body where they can cause dangerous secondary infections like sepsis.

Gum disease works similarly. It starts as inflammation along the gumline called gingivitis which can usually be reversed with improved oral hygiene. However, if the infection is allowed to advance to the periodontitis stage, it will cause permanent damage like receding gums, jawbone erosion, and tooth loss. To make matters worse, the germs may spread through blood vessels in the gums to cause sepsis and other secondary infections. Since the gums are located at the beginning of the airway, the infection may even spread to the gums and cause pneumonia.

How Can I Keep My Mouth and Body Healthy?

The best way to prevent oral infections is to practice excellent oral hygiene. Your daily routine should include:

  • Brushing: Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, gently clean each tooth with short, circular motions. Do this at least twice a day, once before breakfast and once before bed, but brushing between meals is a great idea.
  • Flossing: Cleaning between your teeth with dental floss is just as important to your oral health as brushing because it eliminates plaque and food debris from places inaccessible to a toothbrush. Do this at least once a day.
  • Antibacterial Mouthwash: Rinsing at once or twice a day with mouthwash can kill more than 99.9% of germs and leave your breath smelling fresh and minty.

It’s also crucial to see your dentist at least twice a year for routine exams and cleanings. This way, problems can be caught and corrected in their early stages, and you can receive professional advice about improving your hygiene routine.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Betaharon earned his dental degree at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and completed a general practice residency at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach, CA. He is a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Maryland State Dental Association. His office in La Plata, MD offers preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. To schedule your next dental appointment, contact his office online or dial (240) 349-2439.

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