The Mouth and Body Connection

It’s no doubt that improvements in nutrition, exercise and other personal habits can affect your overall health. You probably also know that our psychological and physical wellbeing can also be closely related, what we call the mind-body connection. As one example, we know that emotional stress can raise blood pressure. In the field of periodontics, we talk about the  “mouth body connection,” with more and more studies pointing to a direct association between gum disease and other inflammatory diseases in the body.

How Can Gum Disease Affect My Body?

As experts at the Mayo Clinic warn, “your oral health is more important than you might realize.”  When your mouth becomes infected with gum disease, it’s believed that some of the bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the circulatory and/or respiratory systems, affecting already-existing disease and/or causing secondary infections. The body’s natural immune system response to this invasion is inflammation. Constant inflammation can then lead to other serious and chronic health issues.

Conditions Linked to Gum Disease

People with diabetes may already be aware that higher levels of blood glucose can help increase their risk of mild gum disease (gingivitis) which can more easily progress to severe gum disease (periodontal disease). Some studies estimate that nearly 22% of individuals with diabetes will have periodontal disease. Their diabetes may be even harder to control since they are overall more susceptible to infection. Some other conditions linked to gum disease include:

  • Heart disease
  • Pregnancy complication and low birth weight
  • Pneumonia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain cancers

What Can You Do to Improve the Mouth-Body Connection?

Practicing good oral hygiene at home, as in brushing twice a day and flossing, is at the top of the list. Other ways of helping to improve the mouth-body connection include lots of common sense tactics like:

  • Avoiding tobacco usage
  • Maintaining a healthy diet (with supplements as needed)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Scheduling dental cleanings and checkups as suggested
  • Reducing stress

If your general dentist suspects you have gum disease, you may already have been referred to our office for specialized periodontal cleanings. These differ from your preventative cleanings at your normal dentist’s office. Our periodontal hygienists dig deeper to stop periodontal disease from advancing, getting in between your teeth and going above and below the gum line, utilizing irrigation techniques and employing antibacterial medication as needed. Without this special cleaning, gum disease can progress, even resulting in eventual tooth loss.

Tackling More Serious Gum Disease

If your advanced gum disease requires dental surgeries, we offer a variety of procedures including soft tissue grafts, bone grafting, guided tissue regeneration, pocket reduction surgery and the LANAP® laser protocol. The latter is a state-of-the-art laser treatment that may be more comfortable with less downtime since no stitches or incisions are required.

Feel free to reach out to our office with questions about the mouth-body connection, or contact us today to arrange a consultation with one of our outstanding periodontists.