Your mouth is the primary entry point for bacteria that affect your entire body. This two-way connection is known as the oral-systemic health link.
Bacteria from the mouth can travel through your bloodstream and cause disease in many parts of your body, including your heart. Oral bacteria are also linked to diabetes and AIDS and have been implicated in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Call the pros at boca Dental and Braces to learn more.
The mouth is a primary entryway for many of the bacteria that cause infection and inflammation throughout the body. This is why it is important to keep the teeth and gums healthy. When harmful bacteria build up in the mouth, they can cause periodontal (gum) disease, an infection, and inflammation of the gums and bone around the teeth. This can lead to tooth decay, loose teeth, and even jawbone loss. In addition, the bacteria can spread to the bloodstream, inflaming the arteries and increasing your risk of heart disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Other bacteria can also be breathed into the lungs, where they can cause respiratory infections like pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. Studies have shown that people with noticeable oral health problems are more likely to suffer from pneumonia.
Most of the time, the bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and dental abscesses live inside the mouth in a sticky substance called plaque. This bacteria uses sugar from foods and drinks to make acid that attacks and breaks down the teeth’s enamel. This is why limiting the amount of sugar you eat is so important.
Other oral health problems include gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that can then progress to periodontal disease, an infection, and inflammation in the tissue and bone around the teeth. Inflammation and bacteria in the mouth can also affect the rest of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, genitals, immune system, and joints. The mouth can also be the first sign of many systemic diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, and nutritional deficiencies.
Saliva (say: SAL-uh-vee) is a clear liquid made in your mouth 24 hours a day. It’s produced by pairs of salivary glands inside each cheek, at the bottom of your mouth, and under your front teeth at the center. The glands secrete about 2 to 4 pints of ooze every day.
It is 99% water and 1% protein and salts. It’s a moist, slippery substance that washes away food debris, dead cells, bacteria, and white blood cells from the surface of your teeth, gums, and tongue. It also lubricates the tongue and throat to aid in chewing and swallowing. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestive process by breaking down starches and fats. It also keeps the mouth’s pH within a normal range, preventing tooth enamel from demineralizing or melting off.
The proteins in saliva are the first line of defense against oral infection. According to a report published in the International Journal of Contemporary Dental and Medical Reviews, they can spark chemical reactions that eliminate oral bacteria and help form a protective layer around the teeth. Proteins can also stimulate taste buds and make it easier for you to eat.
Besides these basic functions, saliva helps the body control stress hormones and keeps bones strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride, and phosphate ions on the surface of your teeth, reports the NIH. It also serves as a diagnostic tool, allowing doctors to test for HIV infection, genetic disorders, and more.
The health of your mouth, teeth, and gums affects the rest of the body in many ways, from heart disease to respiratory problems. Poor oral health allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, where it can cause inflammation and infection. But good oral health care can keep bacteria under control so you can live a longer, healthier life.
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is important to your overall health. This is because many of the vitamins and minerals you consume help your body fight bacteria that can lead to infections, like those resulting in gum disease, mouth sores, and cavities. Vitamins and minerals are essential for your body to perform various vital functions, from keeping the immune system strong to building proteins and cells.
Some vitamins are particularly important to oral health, including vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin D. These vitamins offer protection against bacterial infections, build tissue, and keep bones and teeth strong.
Most people can get enough of these essential vitamins through their food. Eating a balanced diet that includes lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and nuts is one of the best ways to ensure your oral health and overall health are at their best.
A supplement may be necessary if you have difficulty getting enough of these nutrients through your diet. Be sure to talk with your dentist about the right type and amount of supplements for you.
Some health problems, like inflammatory bowel disease and cystic fibrosis, can affect the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. This can decrease their effectiveness.
Minerals are inorganic substances that form the building blocks of rocks and other solid materials. They are required for human growth and development and play important roles in various body functions. Some minerals are essential for healthy teeth and gums. For example, phosphorus rebuilds tooth enamel, and calcium helps strengthen your teeth and bones. Minerals are also found in fish, dairy products, and bananas.
To be considered a mineral, a substance must fit the following criteria:
- It must be naturally formed. A mineral must form from a natural process, such as the cooling of magma or precipitation from a solution. Humans can make some minerals, such as cubic zirconium, in a laboratory, but they are not true minerals because they do not have a characteristic crystal structure or composition.
- It must have a consistent chemical composition and a well-defined crystal structure. A mineral must have a distinct and identifiable crystal lattice with regular patterns of atoms, such as an isometric, tetragonal, orthorhombic, or monoclinic structure. The atomic structure is usually determined by X-ray diffraction, where a beam of X-rays passes through the mineral and is deflected by its crystalline structure. The resulting pattern can be analyzed to determine the mineral’s crystalline structure.
- It must be a solid. A mineral must be a solid material that is stable at room temperature. Liquids and gases are not considered minerals, but some amorphous materials may be considered as such if they meet certain criteria. For example, graphite and diamonds are both made from carbon, but graphite is soft and breaks easily, while diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance.
There is a unique correlation between the quality of one’s diet and the condition of one’s teeth and gums. A healthy mouth requires a balanced diet rich in vitamin-rich whole foods, especially those containing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and A.
Tooth decay is caused by an excess of bacterial plaque, which, if not removed quickly enough, will damage the enamel and expose the dentin beneath, resulting in cavities or tooth erosion. The best way to prevent tooth decay is to avoid sugary and acidic snacks, such as candy, chewing gum, gummy bears, taffy, or cotton candy. Instead, opt for a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or a crunchy piece of cheese, which can help rinse food particles from the mouth and neutralize harmful acids before they attack teeth.
The mouth is home to 700 strains of bacteria. While some microbes are essential for digestion and oral health, others can lead to dangerous conditions such as tooth decay or periodontal disease. These conditions cause pain and discomfort, limit a person’s ability to consume nutrient-rich food, and result in expensive dental bills for fillings or other treatments.
Practicing good oral hygiene and a healthy diet will benefit the entire body, including your heart, blood pressure, and respiratory system. Oral and whole-body health have been considered separate, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the two are interrelated. This is the basis for the idea that you can’t have healthy teeth without a healthy body. The connection between diet and overall oral health is why we encourage all of our patients to eat nutritious, delicious foods.