Physical Health

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Physical Health – The oral systemic connection:

Is your oral health making you sick?

Your mouth is home to billions of bacteria – over 500 different strains to be precise.  Of the many bacteria, some are beneficial and help your mouth to stay healthy.  Others, however, are harmful and wreck havoc on your teeth, gums, and body.

When your mouth is inhabited by harmful bacteria, it causes an inflammatory response in your mouth and body.  When chronic inflammation occurs, inflammatory diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, low birth weight, preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, fetal loss, aspiration pneumonia, and many other systemic diseases, are likely to develop.

When your mouth is inhabited by harmful bacteria, it causes an inflammatory response in your mouth and body.

While chronic inflammation alone is adverse, the body is even more taxed by the toxins produced by the bacterial invasion as well as the bacteria themselves.  In fact, each time you chew, swallow, floss, and brush your teeth, you are ingesting bacteria in your mouth and bacteria can also enter your bloodstream through areas of inflammation in you mouth.  The bacteria can be transported throughout your body.  This becomes very detrimental to your overall health.  This is known as the Oral-Systemic Connection or the Mouth-Body Connection.

Alzheimer's disease

What you do now can affect your chances of getting Alzheimer’s Disease later on in life! Although the exact mechanism for developing the disease is not yet fully understood, many studies show inflammation of the brain and nervous system as one of the characteristics of AD. When you have inflammation in other parts of your body, such as the mouth from gum disease (periodontal disease), this increases your chances of having inflammation in the brain.

More alarmingly, studies show that you are more susceptible to AD with prolonged inflammation particularly when it occurs at a younger age! A specific bacteria, known as a “spirochete” that is commonly found in people suffering from gum disease, has been linked to AD. This same spirochete bacteria has been isolated in the brain of Alzehimer’s patients.


Studies show that people who have gum disease (periodontal disease) are much more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis. This makes sense because both diseases involve inflammation.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should see our Oral Wellness Hygienist more often. Individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis are 8 times more likely to develop gum disease. Once rheumatoid arthritis sufferers develop gum disease, the disease progresses more quickly and damages more tissue than someone without an inflammatory condition.

Gum disease and Arthritis – what you do now can save your teeth in the future!


The immune system of diabetics is more compromised due to the inflammation from the disease. Contracting gum disease increases the level of stress hormones in the body due to chronic inflammation. These factors, when combined, result in increased insulin resistance, contributing to more glucose/sugar in the blood. With increased sugar in the blood, the body cannot utilize it for energy resulting in further impairment of normal function. Gum disease (periodontal disease) and diabetes form a two-way street.

If you have diabetes, you are likely to show an increased prevalence, extent, and severity of gum disease. Conversely, if you suffer from gum disease, you are at an increased risk for developing diabetes. The constant level of inflammation present in the mouth and throughout the body is to blame. The good news is that controlling gum disease can lower hemoglobin A1C count which reduces the death rate associated with diabetes, risk for diabetes related illnesses, risk for a heart attack, and risk for blood clots.

Heart Disease

Harmful bacteria in the mouth, present due to gum disease (periodontal disease), can travel to the circulatory system causing inflammation in different parts the body. The bacteria can also attach to the lining of the blood vessels which initiates the process of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

This is why you should view gum disease very seriously. In fact, studies suggest that nearly half of all heart attacks and strokes could have been prevented with regular visits to see the Oral Wellness Hygienist. The pro-inflammatory process of gum disease must be reduced and eliminated in order to allow the body to heal and stay healthy.

Prevention is the key.

Low birth weight, preterm labour, and pre-eclamsia, fetal growth restriction, and fetal loss

Pregnancy changes hormone levels such as progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone causes an increase in inflammation promoting factors in the blood. This results in what is known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. It is indicated usually with red, puffy, inflamed, and bleeding gums. Certain bacteria thrive under these conditions and release toxins. These bacteria and their toxins enter the bloodstream.

Research suggests that these bacteria and their toxins are able to cross the placenta and cause direct harm on the developing baby increasing your risk for low birth weight, preterm labour, pre-eclamsia, fetal growth restriction, and fetal loss. If you are pregnant, visiting our Oral Wellness Hygienist at least every three months will reduce your chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis. During the visits, we will also share information regarding care for your baby’s mouth so that the entire family can enjoy optimum oral health.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Many health professionals believe the close association between gum disease (periodontal disease) and aspiration pneumonia, particularly in the elderly population. Harmful bacteria, present in the mouth of patients with gum disease, can be breathed, or aspirated, into the lungs especially when coughing, using a ventilator, or snoring. Aspirating harmful bacteria can lead to a lung infection and possibly pneumonia.

The easiest prevention to aspiration pneumonia is by removing the harmful bacteria in the mouth. Regular visits with our Oral Wellness Hygienist will reduce your chances of contracting aspiration pneumonia.

What you breath can harm you.

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