There is a strong connection between the mouth and the body, beyond what was even believed a decade ago. The mouth is more than just the place where food enters the body, it’s where a lot of digestion starts. If the mouth isn’t cared for properly, it has a drastic effect on the rest of the body.
The mouth is full of bacteria. While most of it is harmless, too much leads to cavities, infection, gum disease, and tooth decay. There are three factors that help keep these bacteria levels under control to keep your mouth healthy; brushing, flossing, and proper amounts of saliva.
Brushing: When you brush your teeth, you are removing extra food, acid, and bacteria that is sticking to your teeth. If you are brushing properly, you are going over the gum line and gums. This helps reduce the amount of plaque and tartar. Brushing the gums helps reduce inflammation, toughen them up, and prevent gum disease.
Flossing: This is an additional step to removing the food, acid, and bacteria that are caught in between teeth where your brush doesn’t reach. It also helps clean the gums between teeth and scrape off plaque building up there.
Saliva levels: This is an essential area of the mouth that people don’t think about. Having the right amount of saliva with the proper pH levels will help keep acids low, wash away extra food particles, and wash away excess bacteria. Certain medications can alter the amount of saliva in your mouth, leaving you vulnerable to an overabundance of bacteria that can lead to disease.
Monitoring Gum Disease
Getting a professional cleaning is more than just about checking for cavities and making sure you’re flossing and brushing. Our hygienist will scrape off plaque and tartar that no longer comes off with a tooth brush. Too much of this built up along the gums create gum disease. In fact, 35% of adults in the United States have some form of periodontitis while another 50% have gingivitis. These forms of gum disease can lead to bone loss, infection, and a poor immune system. If you have any kind of gum disease, there are therapies we can do in the office to help. Managing it is vital for keeping the rest of your body healthy.
Periodontal disease makes it more difficult for the body to utilize insulin, making it harder to control your blood sugar levels. Experiencing higher levels of blood sugar is also a complication because it makes it easier for infection to grow in the body, especially the gums. Keeping one under control helps control the other.
Inflammation in the mouth is also a signal that there is inflammation throughout the body in the blood vessels. This increases your risk for heart attacks, higher blood pressure, and stroke. Keeping the inflammation in the mouth under control can help reduce it elsewhere as well.
For pregnant women, infection and inflammation in the mouth can interfere with the development of their baby, and increase the risk of low-weight births. The change in hormones during pregnancy can increase risk of gum disease too.
Coming in for your biannual cleanings is more important than you think. Cleaning and scraping your teeth is more than just keeping them cavity free, though it is about that too. We want to help you live your healthiest, most fulfilling life.