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How mouth health can affect body health

How mouth health can affect body health

by Dr Stephen Suster 16/12/2019

When you brush your teeth morning and night, you’re helping to improve your overall health.

Imagine a sunburn that occurs on the inside of your body. That's a way to think about the whole body effects of inflammation.

Inflammation is how your body protects itself from infection, illness, or injury. The increased production of white blood cells and a ramping up of the immune system are often accompanied by redness, pain, heat, and swelling.

The redness around a sliver, paper cut or a sprained ankle are classic signs of acute (short-term) inflammation. It's part of the natural healing process.

However, problems emerge when there is chronic (long-term) inflammation throughout the body, which often starts with our mouth.

Many modern diseases start here

Chronic inflammation appears to be a factor in a wide range of health issues. In fact, it has been found to be a player in virtually every chronic disease.

Many are considered lifestyle diseases, resulting from our dietary decisions and personal hygiene. Examples:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression

It surprises many to learn that a lot of these conditions start with our mouth and what we put into it.

A decade ago, a physician that encountered these conditions wouldn't have thought to look in a patient's mouth, but today there is a growing awareness of mouth health directly affecting the whole body health.

Common sources of inflammation

When our mouth is inflamed, our body is inflamed. And one of the most common causes of mouth inflammation is the bacterial infection of periodontitis. This is almost always the result of poor dental hygiene. Regular brushing, flossing and professional teeth cleanings can hold this source of inflammation at bay.

Another common source of whole of body inflammation is our diet. Certain foods, particularly highly processed convenience foods, can place an inflammatory load on our bodies. Among them:

  • Large amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta
  • Processed and packaged foods that contain trans fats
  • Vegetable oils that produce an imbalance of Omega 6
  • Excessive intake of alcohol and preserved meats

Some of us exhibit an inflammatory response to substances that we commonly pass off as allergens. They might cause us to sneeze, break out in a rash or in extreme cases, produce airway constriction or even an anaphylactic shock. These can include:

  • Gluten
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Latex
  • Insect stings
  • Nuts

By becoming more mindful of what stresses your immune system, and avoiding them, you can improve your overall health and well-being.

The front line of detection and prevention

One of the goals of today's dentistry is to help patients prevent and reverse chronic disease. So, we look for signs of inflammation on every visit.

Here are five indications that you may have a chronic inflammatory condition:

  • Body aches and recurring joint pain
  • Skin rashes, such as psoriasis or eczema
  • Constant throat clearing from excessive mucus
  • Low energy, despite getting sufficient sleep
  • Frequent colds, flu and other illnesses

If you, or someone you love, complain of these issues, schedule an appointment for a thorough examination. We'll uncover the presence of inflammation and provide specific recommendations to improve the health of your mouth and entire body.

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