As a dentist, we are often asked for different ways people can help boost their dental and oral health. This is a natural question, given that most people do not like spending a great deal of time at the dentist. While we definitely have a few ideas on the subject, it stands to reason that…
Dental Health and Overall Well-being: Staying Healthy Throughout COVID-19 Outbreak
Taking care of your dental health, including your gums and teeth, is a good goal. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, it is even more important. When you have a healthy mouth, you may be more able to fight off medical disorders. If your mouth is not healthy, you may be at a higher risk of infections. Keep reading to learn more.
How dental health relates to overall well-being
The mouth can help a dentist tell what is going on in the rest of the body. Often, the dentist can detect early symptoms and signs of disease in the whole body. For example, conditions such as diabetes or AIDS are often noticeable as lesions in the mouth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90% of systemic diseases have oral signs.
Importance of saliva
Saliva is one of the main defenses of the body against viruses. There are antibodies that attack pathogens. There are proteins known as histatins. These can prevent fungus from growing. However, illnesses can prevent the saliva from producing these substances.
The saliva works to protect the mouth against viruses. However, it cannot always do the job properly. There are more than 500 types of bacteria that live in the mouth. This causes plaque to form, which can cause dental health problems. This can make the mouth a source of infection.
Without regular dental care, plaque may build up near the gumline. This causes pockets between the teeth and gums as the tissues pull away. The gaps are good spaces for bacteria to accumulate. In the early stages, this is known as gingivitis. Without treatment, it can lead to more serious gum disease. A severe form is known as trench mouth.
Oral bacteria and the bloodstream
Normally, the bacteria in the mouth do not go into the bloodstream. However, sometimes invasive dental treatments can allow the microbes to enter. Even flossing or brushing with gum disease can allow them to go to the bloodstream. In other cases, antibiotics might disrupt the balance of bacteria in the mouth. Treatments might reduce the saliva flow. In both of these cases, the mouth’s defenses are compromised.
When the immune system is healthy, having oral bacteria in the bloodstream is not a problem. The system will quickly remove them and prevent infection. However, the immune system may be compromised if an infection such as gum disease is present. When the bacteria enter the bloodstream, the body may become weaker. This makes the immune system less able to fight off other illnesses. One example is infective endocarditis, where the oral bacteria stick to diseased heart valves.
Care for your dental health
Taking care of your dental health can help you stay healthy through the viral outbreak. You can help your overall well-being through regular flossing and brushing. When you cannot see your dentist, home care is even more important. That way, both your teeth and your body will stay well.
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