Have you ever stood by a rushing river and watched the current carry wood and leaves quickly past? Your blood pulses through your body at an even faster pace. Every 20 seconds, blood completes a round trip from head to toe. With an average of 100,000 miles of veins, arteries and capillaries, this closed system delivers vital components needed to sustain life.
Sometimes, there is a break in the bloodstream which allows dangerous invaders to enter. We usually think of this entry being from a cut or scrape on the skin. However, the lining of the mouth is an ideal door into the blood system. The mouth contains over thirty square inches of tissue which provide a home to billions of bacteria. Each tooth is surrounded by a collar of gum tissue where a few potent strains of bacteria can take up residence. These microorganisms produce toxins which stimulate the immune system to react with a rush of inflammation. The delicate vessels of the gums deteriorate from the reaction and bleeding begins. Within seconds, potent bacteria can enter the river of life to reach the brain and every artery, organ and muscle of the body.
Bleeding gums represent the equivalent of a 2x2 inch open wound on the skin. If you saw a gash this large anywhere else on your body, you would seek attention. To make things worse, this open area in your mouth remains saturated with bacteria and stays open indefinitely as a large wound that provides a steady supply of bacteria to areas throughout the body.
In fact, in 2010, scientists at Case Western Reserve University investigated a stillborn case involving a 35-year old mother who suffered from gum disease. They learned that the stomach and lungs of the fetus tested positive for the exact same strain of oral bacteria found in plaque samples from the woman's teeth. It was easy for the bacteria to colonize the placenta which is an immuno-suppressed organ, unlike other organs such as the liver and the spleen.
While this single case shouldn't create anxiety for expectant mothers, it highlights the impact of dental health on overall health. Oral bacteria and chronic inflammation of the gums can aggravate any number of other serious health conditions. For example, diabetes is known to aggravate gum disease and vice versa. Furthermore, oral bacteria have been identified in the lining of damaged coronary arteries.
As the search for a cancer cure intensifies, a preventive focus still promises the best defense against the disease. While most people don't correlate gum health with cancer, recent research draws a link. In a study of 48,000 men, those with gum disease showed a 36% increased risk of lung cancer, 49% increased of kidney cancer and 65% higher risk of pancreatic cancer. We still don't know all the reasons why but saving your teeth could mean saving your life.
Here’s To Your Health
Every effort you make to keep your mouth healthy increases the likelihood that you will keep your teeth for the rest of your life. Furthermore, a preventive focus may add years to your life while helping you avoid or diminish the impact of serious health conditions that can be aggravated by persistent inflammation of the gums.
At Flower Dental, we look forward to providing regular oral healthcare that helps keep you smiling and active for years to come!