Healthy Mouth Healthy Self: How oral inflammation affects your overall health

Posted By: manager

Published on Dec 12, 2019


The condition of your mouth, teeth and gums can affect your broader general health, making oral health much more important than many people realise. If there is inflammation in your mouth, this can be an exacerbating factor to many other illnesses.

Inflammation is an immune response causing part of the body to redden, swell, produce heat and produce pain. It is a reaction to injury or infection. Increased inflammation within the mouth is often caused by poor periodontal (gum) health. A study in The Lancet reports a significant reduction in inflammatory markers in the blood following periodontal (gum) treatment. What this study highlights is that healthier gums mean lower systemic inflammation.

This information is especially important for those with chronic diseases driven by inflammation — diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, etc. This also explains why diabetics experience better management of their condition with enhanced oral health. It is now known that poor gum health means that people with diabetes cannot predictably and easily regulate their blood glucose levels.

Good oral health means lower inflammation and drives better overall health. 

Your mouth is a particularly busy part of your body. The entry point and first line of defence for your digestive system, its role in both maintaining and reporting your overall health is vital. 

Oral inflammation is a signal of a problem. Studies suggest oral inflammation and the bacteria that cause gum disease play a varying role in some diseases.

Inflammation can also reveal certain diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS as these diseases lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

If you’ve experienced an injury to your mouth – biting your lip or tongue; stabbing your gums or the roof of your mouth with a crisp – you will have noticed your mouth heals faster than the rest of you. Your immune system works hard repairing your mouth to reduce the amount of time that the injury is inflamed, so it makes sense that prolonged oral inflammation is a real and possibly very serious concern.

As a symptom, frequent or severe gum disease may signal other systemic conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers and an immune system disorder causing dry mouth. Early diagnosis can result in more effective treatment and longevity of life.

Your mouth is a quick and direct route to your bloodstream, which is why medications such as Aspirin™ are placed under the tongue for immediate absorption. This same path is available to bacteria and other germs.

Some research suggests heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to the same oral bacteria causing inflammation and infections in your mouth, although studies are still in their infancy. Endocarditis, an infection of the lining or your heart valves and chambers, is often caused when germs from your mouth or other parts of you are carried by the bloodstream and attach themselves to certain areas of your heart. Bacteria causing pneumonia can be pulled into your lungs from your mouth.

Practicing good oral hygiene – visiting your dentist regularly for a check-up, daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing – as well as a healthy diet will help to minimise the causes of inflammation. Daily removal of plaque, food debris and reduction of bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth and around your gums is the best way to ensure your mouth remains healthy and does not develop excessive inflammation.

To minimise your risk of inflammation and infection, be sure to attend regular dental check-ups and receive regular cleanings. For more information, or to book an appointment, contact Care Dental Centre now to book an appointment with one of our caring dental professionals.