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Dentist examining smiling female patient in clinic

When you brush, floss, and visit the dentist, your goal is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But did you know that the health of your mouth is linked to your overall health? This is known as the oral-systemic connection.

A groundbreaking study conducted in 1954 was the first to demonstrate that the oral bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. This spread of germs can result in chronic inflammation, a condition linked to many different disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, and more.

How Oral Bacteria Contribute to Heart Disease

Research shows that high-risk oral bacteria can increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. This happens in three ways:

  • People with gum disease tend to have higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This raises the risk for plaque buildup in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
  • High-risk oral bacteria produce chemicals that make the artery walls more permeable, so it’s easier for LDL cholesterol particles to imbed themselves.
  • High-risk bacteria in the bloodstream produce substances that make the inner layers of the arterial wall stickier. As a result, cholesterol particles are more likely to get trapped and create plaque deposits.

Gum Disease and Diabetes

Diabetes patients have weaker immune systems, so they’re more likely to develop gum disease. Then, gum disease worsens diabetes and increases the risk of complications by making blood sugar levels more difficult to maintain. This combination of factors can lead to a destructive cycle if diabetes patients aren’t vigilant about maintaining good oral hygiene.

Other Oral-Systemic Connections

Poor oral health is linked to several other conditions besides heart disease and diabetes. Be aware that gum disease raises the risk of:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Respiratory infections, including pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory condition
  • Pregnancy complications, including premature birth and low birth weight

Protect Your Overall Health with Good Oral Hygiene

It’s clear that when your teeth and gums are compromised, the rest of your body can suffer. That’s why good oral hygiene is so important. Here’s how to keep your mouth as healthy as possible:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss and use mouthwash daily.
  • Chew sugarless gum after meals.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or use chewing tobacco.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and limit your sugar intake.
  • Schedule teeth cleanings every six months and consult with your dentist regularly.

At Beyond Dentistry Laser Center, we can help you protect your mouth—and the rest of your body—with our general dentistry services. Not only do we provide expert teeth cleanings and thorough oral checkups, but we also offer easy-to-understand home care instructions to help keep your teeth and gums healthy between visits. For personalized oral care advice, or to schedule your next dentist appointment in Brooklyn, please call us at 718-436-0202 or contact us online.