Did you know that that the mouth can carry anywhere between 500 to 650 different species of bacteria?! And researchers estimate that the average mouth carries about 20 billion microbes. They can be found on the tongue, teeth, gum and cheeks, and some of these bacteria are known to double their numbers every 20 minutes with the mouth acting like a petri dish! With the 100 billion microbes in saliva, we actually end up swallowing 100 billion microbes every 24 hours. Yikes! Now, not all these bacteria are bad. In fact, some of them are actually necessary to do the job of breaking down food.
The Continuing Question
Researchers continue to ask how does oral health impact overall health. Although many answers have been found, many questions remain
Many dentists and dental specialists have known for years about a connection and have been trying to convince patients. Science is finally starting to reach those without medical training. While the exact causal nature of the relationship between oral infection and other medical conditions still is being investigated, these relationships can’t be ignored any longer. Patients, doctors and dentists need to work together for a total approach to treatment and care.
The Mouth is the Gateway to the Body
With the mouth being the main avenue for things to go into and out your body and the fact of the bacteria in our mouths, it’s not stretching too far to assume that some of the infectious activity in our mouths can affect other systems. It’s also accepted that if one bodily system is not working properly, it can affect every other systems in the body.
Oral Health and Diabetes
With a chronic disease like diabetes for example, oral inflammation appears to compromise the body’s ability to control blood sugar. High blood sugar conditions are prime breeding ground for bacteria.
Oral Health and Heart Disease
Researchers are trying to figure out the connection between oral health and heart disease but are certain a connection exists. According to WebMD, “up to 91 percent of patients with heart disease have periodontitis compared to 66 percent of people with no heart disease.” Gum disease and heart disease also share similar risk factors such as smoking, unhealthy diet and being overweight. More recent studies have found dental bacteria in the plaque that clogs up arteries (the plaque that clogs arteries is different from the plaque in your mouth). Researchers believe that the bacteria travel through the bloodstream and settles in other areas of the body.
Oral Health and Pregnant Moms
Pregnant moms (as are women in general) are at increased risk of developing gum disease issues because of fluctuating hormones. They affect the production of saliva, which is the body’s natural defence against bacterial growth in the mouth. Pregnant moms who experience gum disease and decide not to seek treatment or do at-home oral cleanings differently are at a seven times higher risk for pre-eclampsia, which can lead to premature delivery and underweight babies. Gum disease actually triggers the release of the fluids that induce labor. One study found that 50 percent of the placentas tested from women who had experienced pre-eclampsia during pregnancy tested positive for at least one type of bacteria normally found in the mouth.
Oral Health and Osteoporosis
This is probably one of the more obvious possible connections, though research is continuing to determine exactly how one affects the other. Osteoporosis happens when the bones in the body start to become porous, which means the jawbone can be affected as well. It is a well-known dental fact that poor bone quality can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, can spread to the underlying bone. It’s unclear yet whether periodontal disease contributes to the overall extent of osteoporosis in the jaw, or if inflammation in the mouth could trigger similar porotic bone issues in other parts of the body.
While researchers continue their investigations, it’s important for us not to take our oral health for granted and to learn to take care of it to prevent these sorts of relationships from developing in our bodies. This is where CDIC can help. CDIC can provide an overall evaluation of any oral conditions and treatment solutions to eliminate them or reduce their effect on the rest of your body and life.