How gum disease affects your overall health: Bacteria from your mouth enters your blood, then contributes to diseases such as cancer

Here’s something to make you check your teeth today: Bacteria in the mouth have long been known to cause various diseases in other parts of the body. While saliva may serve as the first line of defense against unwanted contaminants, some bacteria may be tougher to break down. A study from the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil found that gum disease caused by certain bacteria increases the risk of breast cancer in women by up to three times.

Some bacteria cause bad breath, while others can cause inflammation in the mouth. When these bacteria infiltrate the gums, they may pose the risk of entering the circulatory system, and travel to other parts of the body. These bacteria also cause periodontitis, a severe gum infection that damages soft tissues and destroys the teeth. Periodontitis can cause your gums to loosen up and result in tooth loss. Moreover, these bacteria can infect other soft tissues in the body such as breast tissue.

The study, led by Dr. Nigel Carter of the Oral Health Foundation, enlisted 201 women, 67 of which had breast cancer. Individual information was gathered, such as medical history and lifestyle habits, including smoking and alcohol consumption. All of the participants were evaluated for gum inflammation. The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, stated that the women with severe gum infections were three times more likely to have breast cancer. Dr. Carter’s research is important because it creates another point of view in identifying the cause of diseases, in this case, starting in the mouth. The researchers involved in the study call for more studies to be done to be able to associate oral diseases with whole body diseases fully.

It’s good to have pearly white teeth and fresh-smelling breath, but taking care of your mouth, teeth, and gums, may be more beneficial than you think. Practicing good oral hygiene not only provides you with higher self-esteem but also helps prevent diseases such as breast cancer and heart disease. Preventing oral diseases and infections is one of the easiest methods in keeping healthy. Here are some tips to guide you towards excellent oral health.

  • Book an appointment – Visit your dentist one to two times annually for a check-up. Dentists can help identify if you have infections or inflammations that need to be treated. Furthermore, you can also get an oral prophylaxis, or oral cleansing, to remove tartar and plaque build-up on your teeth and inside your gums. This way, the bacteria that cannot be removed with a regular toothbrush may be eliminated.
  • Brush, brush, brush – Your mom always told you to brush your teeth at least three times a day. It may be a hassle at times, but you’ll benefit from it anyway. Make sure to use natural toothpaste (you can make your own) as much as possible. Fluoride, which is found in almost all commercial toothpaste, is a health risk and must be avoided as much as possible. Also, replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Don’t forget the tongue – Most people focus only on brushing the teeth, but don’t forget your gums and tongue too! No matter how much you scrub those pearly whites, bacteria may still reside on your tongue and in the crevices of your gums, so make sure to focus on those as well.
  • Strings attached – After brushing your teeth (and gums and tongue), get some floss and work your way in between those teeth. Toothbrush bristles are often too thick to fit in between teeth, and this would be the job of the floss. You’ll find satisfaction in removing that stubborn food debris from yesterday’s dinner.
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables – This is as natural as you can get – fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that keep disease-causing bacteria away. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons are acidic and can disintegrate bacteria that your saliva can’t. Furthermore, the fibers in these fruits and vegetables help clean the surface of your teeth, your gums, and your tongue. Don’t forget to munch on an apple today!

Sources include:

comments powered by Disqus