Oral and General Health

Understanding the Connection Between Oral and General Health


Growing evidence shows a strong connection between your oral and general health. Unchecked bacteria in the mouth can inflame oral tissues, and travel to the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. Some of the systemic health problems connected to oral bacteria include heart disease and diabetes.

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There is tremendous research now going on in universities regarding the germs in our mouth, the bacteria in our mouth, and how that affects our immune system, and how that affects our bodies systematically. What they're finding is pretty incredible stuff. Many of the germs in our mouths that cause disease, especially gum disease. Number one, they don't live by themselves. They live in groups and they're called biofilms. These biofilms are almost like a primitive little organism, and they're very difficult to kill. The only way you can kill them is really is if you disrupt them mechanically. Things like mouthwashes aren't going to do a darn thing to them, and what they do is they can cause and will cause inflammation in our mouths, in our gums, and our gums gets swollen and red and bleeding. When our gums are swollen, red and bleeding, they become porous, and these bacterial can go right to your gums and they enter your bloodstream. They do this thousands of times a day, we have this stuff circulating. Your immune system's going to go and attack them, but what they do in your mouth is they cause inflammation and that's bad. What can that lead to? Well, it can lead to gum disease and then it could possibly lead to tooth loss, and that's not a good thing. But, what we're learning is when they get through and enter your body, they cause inflammation downstream, and that's where they're really starting to cause havoc. They're really being linked to the formation of plaques in our blood vessels which can lead to heart disease. There's a whole mechanism that really involves these germs and how they can set off an inflammatory event. I'm not going to get into the whole science of this, but by and large, there's definitely a linkage between the oral bacteria and what's going on downstream in our immune system, definitely. It's affecting our immune system. It is causing inflammation in our bodies and it could possibly leading to heart disease and be linked to possibly cancers, low birth weight babies in pregnant women, affect people suffering from diabetes. The list is getting longer and longer and longer. I've had some empirical evidence. I could think of one patient who came in, really bad heart issues, and he had very bad periodontal disease. We worked with our lasers and so forth, got him cleared up very very well, and low and behold, his cardiologist just told him his heart is all very good right now. So, it's empirical. That's not a scientific example, but it's good enough for me at least to know that I think I'm certainly not hurting these people, getting their mouths healthy. I think, just based on the research, if we can keep these germs under control in the mouth, get the gums healthy so they're not inflamed, decrease the inflammation in the mouth, decrease the transfer of these biofilms into the body, and decrease that inflammation in the body, it can only better the patient and improve the patient's health. There's a whole organization, I'm a charter member of it, called The American Academy of Oral Systemic Health. We believe firmly in this and we think ultimately, it's going to change the way certain diseases are treated in the future. Many cardiologists are turned onto this. We personally feel that dentists and cardiologist, physicians should be speaking and working as a team to treat these patients. I think if a patient is seeing a cardiologist and has rampant periodontal disease, probably best to clear that up, and I think a lot of cardiologists agree. I think it's a tremendous service to the patient to take this approach and to educate them about this. You're giving them a reason to floss. You're giving them a reason to take care of their oral health.