Is Your Oral Health a Window to Your Overall Health? Part 2

Hello, again and we welcome our faithful followers as well as new readers back to our blog site!.  As you may already be aware, we desire to educate our patients and readers in all manner of health concerns, with an emphasis being given to those pertaining to oral health, gum disease, and system diseases, and the relationship between these conditions. Our Dr. Scharf enjoys helping our followers understand how gum disease and systemic diseases are linked, emphasizing prevention and treatment where and when available, and to do so in a manner which is easily understood by our audiences and patients.  It is in this vein that we recently began a new blog series on oral and overall health and how one reveals the other. So, without further ado, let’s begin our next segment of this discussion.

Our Goal

As stated in our last segment, our goal for this blog series is to help you understand how untreated gum disease, and the deeper damage it can cause, affects your overall general health in a dangerous way.  Today, we will discuss the basics about how oral health and overall general health are connected since knowledge can always help you develop ways of protection.

The Bacterial Connection

Bacteria live everywhere in our bodies; some of them are good while others are not.  The purpose of the human immune system is to control those good and not-so-good bugs, in an attempt to prevent diseases.  Where do these bacteria come from, you may ask? Well, most of them utilize the human entry port that we call our mouths, enabling them to have access to all parts of the body, especially the respiratory and digestive systems.  Once in those areas, those bad bacteria can go to work causing damage.

Normal Defense Mechanisms

Normally, the body’s immune system is designed to attack and “take out” the harmful bacteria before they can wreak their havoc.  Good oral hygiene that includes daily brushing and flossing also works with the immune system to keep bacterial growth better controlled.  However, when good oral hygiene is lacking, the environment in the mouth becomes a virtual incubator, allowing bacterial growth to increase which can lead to infections, tooth decay as well as gum disease.

Another of the body’s defense mechanisms is the saliva that is produced by glands in your oral cavity.  This saliva is designed to wash food and beverage residue away and cleanse the oral tissues of the acids produced by the bacteria. When the saliva production is reduced, which can also occur as a result of taking some medications (like decongestants, antihistamines, pain killers, antidepressants and diuretics), the oral environment becomes ripe with opportunities for those tiny microbes to increase — building the perfect scenario for the development of a variety of diseases. 

Next time, we will begin to discuss some of the health issues which can stem from bacterial overgrowth in your mouth.  Until then, we want to stress the importance of becoming established with a dental professional who can help you build and maintain a good oral health regimen.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island, and in that role, he’ll be able to identify and treat any stage of gum disease in any member of your family.  Call him at (631) 661-6633 or visit him online. He wants to tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

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