Over the past few decades, doctors and dentists have discovered a great deal of new information about how the human body works. This has led to a more integrative approach to health and wellness. As an example of the more evolved approach, dentists have found a connection between the quality of a person’s oral health and his or her immune function. As you continue reading, find out how taking proper care of your teeth and gums can result in better immune system protection.
How Oral Health and the Immune System Correlate
Two of the key functions of the immune system are to identify threats to your health and attack them before they can become problematic. It uses inflammation as one of its indicators of an issue.
Because plaque build-up in the mouth causes inflammation, it triggers a reaction. The diversion of the immune system’s attention to the mouth can overwork it and leave the rest of your body vulnerable to infection and sickness.
Other Health Problems Related to Poor Dental Care
Unaddressed oral plaque can eventually settle beneath the gum line to cause gum disease (also called periodontitis). The decay doesn’t stop there. If ignored long enough, the plaque causing bacteria can travel throughout the body to wreak havoc.
With the body’s natural defense mechanism scrambling to “put out fires,” here are some of the imbalances that can arise:
- Heart disease
- Allergic rhinitis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
The good news is that by stepping up your dental care, there is a greater chance of avoiding these problems.
How to Improve Your Oral Health
The #1 word associated with excellent oral health is consistency. It’s one thing to know what you should be doing, but it completely changes the game when you’re more deliberate in your approach. You can start by committing to brushing and flossing your teeth at least two times a day to control the growth of oral bacteria.
Cutting back on your sugar intake will also make a tremendous difference, given that it’s the preferred food of bacteria. If you have a “sweet tooth,” try substituting fruits for some of your favorite delights. The natural sugars they contain are far less detrimental to your oral health.
A final way to protect your teeth and gums and fortify your immune system is to visit a dentist every six months for cleanings and examinations. In doing so, you’ll be able to catch any developing problems early and protect yourself from the invisible threats to your total wellness.
About the Author
Dr. David Earnest received his dental degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated his commitment to excellence by taking continued education classes in a host of treatment areas. Additionally, Dr. Earnest maintains professional affiliation with the Academy of General Dentistry and other professional organizations. He offers preventive and comprehensive care at Comal Dental, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.