Your mouth is part of your body, and even though we don’t often think of it, there is a link between what happens in and to your mouth and what happens in your body.
Your mouth contains bacteria. (Yes, even your dentist’s mouth has bacteria!) Some of the bacteria are “good” bacteria that are beneficial to you and others are “bad” bacteria, such as the bacteria that cause dental decay or gum disease. Because there are “good” bacteria, we don’t want to totally eliminate the bacteria. (Also, since the mouth is an open system, it’s impractical to try because any time something enters your mouth, it has the opportunity to reintroduce bacteria into your mouth.)
What are some ways that these bacteria can affect your body?
- Oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream (usually via bleeding gums) and release toxins that can attach to your artery walls and enter your respiratory and other body systems.
- Oral bacteria can cause your own bacteria-fighting blood cells to give off proteins that seem to trigger an anti-inflammatory autoimmune response in your body.
- Oral bacteria can create a protein that tricks your own platelets into encasing and protecting the bacteria from your immune system and from antibiotics you take to try to get rid of them.
Gum disease (inflammation of your gums) has been linked to heart, lung, and autoimmune diseases . Arthritis and diabetes are two examples of diseases that have a link to gum disease. Some studies also link gum disease/inflammation to oral and other cancers.
The mouth/body link works the other way too. Problems in your body systems can affect your mouth.
Uncontrolled blood sugar in diabetics makes it harder for your body to heal itself. This can make it harder for your body to correct the destruction created by gum disease, so your gum disease progresses more quickly.
Celiac disease is when your digestive system reacts to gluten found in wheat, rye, barley and other sources. Dental enamel defects may be more common in those with celiac disease. (Dental enamel is the material that covers your teeth and is usually what you touch if you touch your teeth.) These enamel defects may be one of the earliest signs of celiac disease in your body. In children with celiac disease, tooth eruption may also be delayed. (This is believed to be due to poor absorbtion in the digestive tract.) Other problems that may be linked to celiac disease are:
- An increased number of canker sores.
- A red, painful tongue (believed to be due to the inability to properly absorb vitamin b12, folic acid, and iron.)
So yes, your body affects your mouth and your mouth affects your body and there may be times that your physician and your dentist need to work together for your best dental and overall health!
Note: Dr. Robb’s office address will change beginning 12/5/19. The new address is 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Same side of the street but further east (closer to Oberlin Avenue).