The Mouth-Body Connection
Teeth are precious organs, therefore it’s important to understand the intimate connection between oral health and overall health and the direct correlation between chronic systemic diseases and the condition of one’s mouth. What happens in the mouth, happens in the body.
Similar to a blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from toxins in the blood, there is a barrier between the gums and teeth and the rest of the body. More than half the population has some form of gum disease resulting in inflammation and infection which slowly breaks down this barrier, triggering disease and dysfunction in other parts of the body. Some of these systemic conditions include diabetes, autoimmune diseases, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and more recently Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. It can even affect pregnancy.
Treatments such as prescription drugs and chemotherapy can also increase susceptibility to periodontal inflammatory disease. Awareness of these interrelationships can help determine better treatment and prevention.
One of the best practices for prevention is to brush after meals and floss. If it isn’t possible to brush between meals, functional medicine physician, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, suggests dry brushing or chewing gum for about five minutes. The saliva production that occurs after gum chewing promotes remineralization, which is the process of replacing minerals in the teeth. Cavities form when a tooth loses minerals faster than it replaces those minerals. And of course, see a dentist regularly to catch oral disease in its earliest phases.
Sourced by Dr. Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, owner of Cariodontal, located at 310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck, NY (516-282-0310/Cariodontal.com), and Manhattan Oasis Dentistry, 525 West End Ave., Ste. 1G, New York, NY (212-874-2880/ManhattanOasisDentistry.com)