Did you know that gum disease has now been linked to a depressed immune system? A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that the same bacteria that cause gum disease also cause an imbalance in the immune system.
This imbalance is called dysbiosis. The harmful bacterium known as Porphyromonas gingivalis simultaneously blocks the immune cells’ ability to kill and preserves their ability to cause inflammation.
There’s a vicious cycle where dysbiosis allows inflammation, and in turn, the inflammation provides breakdown products that feed the dysbiotic microbial community. As a result, your immune system becomes severely weakened.
In other words, allowing yourself to have gum disease will also weaken your immune system, which puts you at risk for a whole host of other health problems! It’s striking to me just how important oral health is to your overall health, but many people never make that important connection.
Preventing Gum Disease
You already knew you don’t want to have gum disease, but the fact that it has such an impact on your immune system and the rest of your body makes it even more dangerous than you might have realized.
That’s why I want to remind you what you can do to prevent gum disease in the first place. By the time your gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, it’s severe enough that we have to offer a therapeutic treatment that may include rinses or even antibiotics. Fortunately, you don’t have to let it get that far.
The best way to prevent gum disease is with proper oral hygiene. You should brush twice per day, floss once per day, and possibly use an antibacterial rinse that can also include fluoride. Drink plenty of water too.
Another big role in gum disease prevention is
eating a healthy diet. Your overall body will benefit from a healthy diet, but an unhealthy diet is particularly bad for your teeth because it tends to be very sugary. With sugar comes the chance of decay – as sugar combines with bacteria to form a harmful acid – along with the gum disease you wanted to prevent!
Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy products, and whole grains. Stay away from sodas, sports drinks, candy, and anything else that’s high in sugar. This will make a huge difference.
Other great ideas include probiotics and vitamins. Probiotics are designed to put the good bacteria back into your system, while vitamins each play a role in your overall health. In this case, aside from multivitamins, you should focus on vitamin C, which will keep your immune system strong.
These are just a few ideas, but perhaps the most important way to maintain good oral health is to have regular checkups with your dentist. I can catch any problems and head them off at the pass. We can also help you maintain good oral hygiene with periodic cleanings.
Take care of your teeth and gums to prevent problems like gum disease. You’ll be so glad you were proactive in protecting your oral health!
~Dr. Marea White