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Understanding the Mouth-Body Connection

dental patient smiling after gum disease treatment

Has your dentist ever told you that your mouth is the gateway to your body? It may come as a surprise that the health of your mouth affects the rest of your body, but it’s true. The bacteria that cause inflammation and infection in your gum tissue (periodontal disease) can quickly travel throughout your bloodstream. This can harm your body, increasing your risk for or worsening systemic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding this connection is important, not only for keeping your smile healthy but your whole body healthy, too.

Connecting the mouth and body

Surrounding each of your teeth is gum tissue, which fits snuggly around the roots to seal out any harmful bacteria. This protective barrier ensures that no dangerous toxins get to your bloodstream and compromise your immune system. When teeth and gums are properly cared for and healthy, this seal is strong and any pathway between your mouth and body is blocked.

How bacteria enter the bloodstream

Unfortunately, the protective seal of gum tissue can be broken from injury or infection. Most commonly, gum disease is the culprit. This progressive condition begins when plaque is allowed to harden into tartar on the surface of the teeth, generally due to poor oral hygiene. The bacteria irritate and inflame the gum tissues, which begin to pull away from the tooth roots. Once their protective seal is broken, this bacteria is free to enter the body and travel through the bloodstream. Gum disease can complicate diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, and has even been linked to low birth weight and premature babies.

Protect your mouth against oral infection

You can help reduce the risk of gum disease by taking preventive steps! Always brush twice daily and floss once a day. Plaque hardens onto your teeth after 24 hours, so keeping up a good oral hygiene routine is important. Eat a diet rich in vitamins, fibers, and minerals to boost your body’s immune system and keep your teeth and gums remain healthy. And be sure to visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings, examinations, and x-rays to ensure no disease, decay, or infection is lurking.

Schedule your appointment

One of the first signs that your mouth—and body—may be in danger is tender, bleeding gums. If you’ve noticed these symptoms of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, schedule an appointment with our team today!

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