ORAL SYSTEMIC CONNECTION
The health of your mouth has an effect on the overall health of your body.
This link is called the oral systemic connection, and it’s becoming a larger part of forward looking dentists practices as we learn to maintain health in more ways than ever before, with tools we’ve never had before.
Relationship between oral health and systemic disease
Much of the connection comes down to bacteria, which are common in the mouth and generally beneficial to our health, however when they’re out of balance, it can cause serious chronic and systemic health conditions.
The mouth acts like a barrier to many of the bacteria, and when gum disease hits, the barrier breaks down leading to issues in the rest of the body. Chronic low-grade infections in the mouth also elevate systemic inflammation, which plays a part in the oral systemic connection too.
Oral health and the brain
Harmful bacteria in your mouth can make you more susceptible
to developing blood clots, increasing the chance of a stroke.
Oral health and the lungs
Once dental plaque is established in the mouth, it can spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia and bronchitis. Maintaining good oral health can decrease the incidence of respiratory infections.
Oral health and the kidneys
Because the mouth is a gateway for bacteria, poor oral health causes infections to spread faster, increasing the kidneys’ workload.
Oral health and the pancreas
When you’re diabetic, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, and uncontrolled diabetes can lead to gingivitis and other oral manifestations.
Oral health and cardiovascular disease
The link between periodontal disease and heart disease, comes very much down to inflammation. Conditions such as poor hygiene and smoking encourage the growth of more pathogenic bacteria. That can lead to infected pockets of bacteria and their toxins spreading below the gum line. The bacteria can lodge in the arteries, make them sticky and more prone to trapping cholesterol. Inflammed arteries can swell with cholesterol and rupture. In fact studies show that bacteria found in periodontal disease, such as Streptococcus Sanguis, also spread to the heart, and can cause strokes.
So the link is most definitely there, and the relationship between oral health and systemic disease firmly established, all we have to do now, is treat patients accordingly, and work on oral health education.
Women with periodontal disease also have higher rates of breast cancer.
Expectant mothers with periodontal disease are more likely to have a pre-term birth.
Oral Bacteria Screening and Biofilm Removal
The significance of these mouth-body and oral-systemic connections highlight
the importance of preventing and treating oral disease, and this is one of the ways we do it.
Dental plaque contains a mix of bacteria and proteins from your saliva, and over time, the bacteria consolidates into a biofilm, which will eventually cause inflammation of the gums and dental cavities.
The first time a patient comes to visit we take a small sample of plaque from under their gumline. It’s painless, takes less than a minute, and allows us to determine the motility of the bacteria, the overall bacterial load and if there are opportunistic pathogens that potentially cause disease. In fact, we’re one of the only dental practices in NSW to use phase contrast microscopy as an important educational and diagnostic tool.
Next, we’ll remove the biofilm by removing the plaque, and if required, provide treatment options like irrigation with antibacterial ozone, Airflow hygiene, ultrasonic cleaning and laser disinfection.
If you’d like to find out more, check out our upcoming courses here, or contact us below: