Link Between Oral Health and Systemic Health

We all know that brushing and flossing our teeth is important. It helps prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease, so you can keep your smile bright and healthy. But did you know that oral health may affect much more than just your mouth?

Several recent reports have linked oral bacteria to health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s Disease.

Porphyromonas Gingivalis

This is a bacteria that is found all over your mouth. It is primarily responsible for chronic periodontitis. Some of the symptoms of this gum disease are:

  • Gum tenderness.
  • Minor bleeding.
  • Gradual loosening of teeth.
  • Redness and recession of gum tissue.

These problems are kept at bay through excellent daily oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings. 

However, this microbe doesn’t stay localized in the mouth. It has been located in both the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and it has even been implicated in several kinds of infections. Through these studies, we have learned that P. Gingivalis produces a protein that actually causes the degeneration of brain cells, which in turn leads to memory loss and—potentially—Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Research

Bacteria doesn’t stay in just one place. If it can find a new place that’s good to settle down and replicate, it will. Several studies have been done which link such bacterial spread with many health problems. The brain has been of particular interest in these studies.

In working with stroke victims, P. Gingivalis was located in the blood clots of 79% of the sample patients. An Alzheimer’s study had even higher results, with 96% of the sample testing positive for the brain-deteriorating enzyme produced by P. Gingivalis.

More studies continue to research the exact effect this bacteria on brain processes in order to someday find a way to cure Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One of these studies is currently working on developing a drug that will block P. Gingivalis from creating the harmful enzyme.

Your Oral Health

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This applies to dentistry as much as anything. When it comes to your teeth, good care and regular checkups are absolutely vital. This good care includes guidelines like:

  • Brush your teeth regularly.
  • Replace your toothbrush when the bristles get old.
  • Floss. Floss. Floss.
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings at least twice a year.
  • Know the signs of gum disease.
  • Make a dental appointment if you notice anything amiss about your teeth or gums.

It’s easier to protect your teeth, gums, and full-body health when we can intervene as early as possible.

Take Care of Your Health

With established links between oral bacteria and major health difficulties, it is more important than ever to look out for the well-being of your teeth. You deserve both the brilliant smile and the improved bodily health that you’ll get when you keep up with your dental care.

Remember, you don’t have to do it alone! We’re here to help with your dental questions and treatments.