Chairside Talk

Germaphobs Watch Out!

The Bacteria in Our Mouths is No Joke

The mouth is a portal into our bodies and without proper care, the plaque and bacteria it harbors can help destroy our physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few of the many health problems that can be aggravated by a dirty mouth.

Heart Disease:

People with preexisting heart conditions or defective heart valves are susceptible to heart infection (endocarditis). Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream (bacteremia) and settle on the damaged heart tissue which can further cause damage to the heart.

Bacteria can also attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and contribute to clot formation. The blood clots can then obstruct blood flow restricting the amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for proper heart function. This may lead to heart attacks. By limiting the amount of bacteria in our mouths, the chance of infection lessens.

Uncontrolled Diabetes:

People with diabetes are at risk for periodontal disease, this is a fact. The two often go hand in hand. This chronic bacterial infection of the gums can increase the blood sugar level for an extended time. This affects and damages tissue throughout the body including the heart, eyes and nerves. When bacteria enter the bloodstream it activates the immune cells. This induces insulin resistance and sugar cannot be taken out of the blood and delivered into the cells. Diabetics who have periodontal disease should be treated to control if not eliminate the periodontal infection.

Preterm low birthweight babies:

Expectant mothers with chronic gum disease are more likely to give birth to an underweight or preterm baby. Bacteria from the mother’s mouth can cross the placental barrier allowing the fetus to become susceptible to infection. Routine cleanings during pregnancy reduces the risk of complications. Three cleanings during gestation is recommended.

Osteroporosis:

People with low bone mass may lose their teeth because the bone that supports the teeth has decreased. This can be exacerbated or accelerated with the presence of chronic gum problems or periodontal disease. When the gums and periodontium senses a bacterial infestation, its natural response is to shrink away from the problem, this is why people with periodontal disease lose their teeth. Studies support that tooth loss can be reduced by controlling the oral bacteria and periodontal condition.

Remember to see your dentist annually and have routine cleanings. Most people with periodontal disease need to see the hygienist up to four times a year. This keeps bacteria levels lower and in control. It is our only defense against preventing this disease and its life altering complications from progressing.

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