The Link Between Mouth And Body

In recent years, more research has continued to emerge that points to potential links between bleeding, swollen, and red gums and a variety of potential health concerns that range from diabetes to heart disease. Researchers believe that bacteria originating in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body where it can cause inflammatory reactions to occur. When not properly treated, gum disease can increase your risk of developing a variety of diseases linked to inflammation.

Gums Disease & Your Heart
While researchers have yet to conclusively find a link between gum disease and heart disease, the two conditions share a variety of common risk factors, and a number of studies have shown that individuals with gum disease have a higher risk of also suffering from heart disease when compared to individuals with healthy gums.
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Even though researchers don’t know the exact correlation, one theory suggests that the oral bacteria that causes gum disease can enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria travels to the heart where it attaches itself to fatty plaque deposits that line the arteries. This can eventually lead to inflammation and an increased risk of heart attack.

Gum Disease & Diabetes
Research has firmly established that diabetes lowers a person’s ability to fight off infection. When blood sugar levels become elevated- a common condition for individuals with uncontrolled diabetes- a person’s risk of developing gum disease also increases. Further more, gum disease can make it more difficult for individuals with diabetes to properly manage their blood sugar levels. This symbiotic relationship allows the two diseases to feed and enable each other, making it difficult for an individual with diabetes not to develop gum disease.

To help protect the health of your gums, individuals with diabetes need to make every effort to control their blood sugar level, and to practice meticulous oral hygiene. Talk with your dentist to determine the best ways of protecting your gums from the effects of diabetes.
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Dry Mouth & Your Oral Health
Saliva plays a vital role in protecting the health of your teeth and gums. Bacteria that grows in the mouth, referred to as plaque, can cause permanent damage to your teeth and gums when left on your teeth following a meal. Saliva helps to wash your teeth clean of plaque and lingering food particles that accumulate after a meal to help minimize the affect this bacteria has on your oral health. Individuals who suffer from dry mouth lose this protection when their bodies stop producing enough saliva.

A variety of conditions and prescription medications can cause dry mouth to develop. If you suffer from dry mouth, talk with your dentist about potential causes of the problem and possible treatment methods. If left untreated, dry mouth dramatically increases your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.

Stress & Your Teeth
Individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, or high levels of stress have a higher risk of developing oral health problems. Studies have shown that the more stress an individual experiences, the higher levels of the hormone cortisol their body will produce. Excessive levels of cortisol can cause serious long-term damage to the health of a person’s gums and overall physical health.

Individuals who suffer from excessive stress also tend to take poorer care of their oral health, as studies have found that over 50 percent of people fail to brush and floss regularly when stressed. Failing to brush increases a person’s risk of gum disease, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease.

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Timothy Lemke
About the Author:

A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke has discussed how his gums affect his overall health with Dr. Travis Agee, a dentist in Portland, OR.

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