Why your mouth matters

You would not leave an open wound anywhere on your body untreated. Yet, we do in our mouth.

Your mouth is the main opening into your entire body. We put things in it all day long. Morning till night. We use our mouth to speak, breathe, and kiss. Yet, it remains on the outside edge of conversations we have about health and wellness.

When you look at the way the majority of people take care of their teeth and mouth, it would seem oral health is unimportant to us.

What does seem to be important are straight, white teeth and fresh breath. People are purchasing products that target these things even if they have cavities and gum disease.

I have seen people say they don’t have money to go to the Dentist, then spend $3000 on Smile direct to straighten their teeth. To lose teeth a year later because they did not know they had gum disease. Knowing the health of their mouth is essential before you use a product, they may actually make your teeth worse.

Dental disease is silent, one out of two people have gingivitis, and 64 million people have periodontal disease.

According to the World Health Organization, tooth decay affects 60-90% of school-aged children in industrial countries; it is the # 1 disease among children in the united states.

Children are missing school and being admitted to the hospital under general anesthesia for dental treatment. By the time they have pain, the cavities have progressed to the point that they will need a pulpotomy, root canal or extractions. These cases usually involve several teeth.

When I started working in a mobile setting eight years ago, I did not believe the statistics.

I worked in a private practice where parents brought their kids in every six months to see the dentist.

What I was not seeing was the percentage of kids that did not see a dentist. It was not until I started going into schools, I saw the need for dental education and treatment.

I even thought a dental visit and school form are required to register your child for school, but no one follows up to see if treatment is recommended or completed.

The astonishing truth is this can all be prevented simply by changing a few habits.

Taking steps to improve our oral health habits and diet can also lower our risk of getting chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney disease, preterm delivery, and more.

Your mouth is the gatekeeper to your gut.

Our mouth helps chew and digest our food.

Yes, digestion starts in our mouth. In order to prevent disease, we need the microbes in our mouth to stay in balance. When we chew our food, it stimulates saliva flow, which creates a chain reaction.

To prevent tooth decay, we need to appreciate all it does, which I am going to attempt to explain without too much technobabble.

The simple way I explain this process to my patients is this.

Sugar + Bacteria = Acid

Acid + tooth = tooth decay

While this is true, there is much more to it than that. Tooth decay is not a bacterial infection. It is caused by an imbalance in your mouth and or gut.

We have only recently begun to put together the complex puzzle of the relationship between the mouth and the body.

Our whole body is full of bacteria both good and bad, some of which keep us healthy and some that make us sick.

We need to understand our mouth is our portal into our body, and our gut acts as a second brain. In order to stay healthy, we must maintain balance.

When our mouth is healthy, bacteria help maintain harmony.

The oral microbiome flow from the mouth into the digestive tract to become the gut microbiome.

Your gut is a continuation of what happens in your mouth, where the microbiome starts.

Your body is in constant communication with your gut. While your gut calls most of the audibles, the playbook is written by the mouth.

 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

The healthier your mouth and oral microbiome, the healthier your gut, immune system, and entire body will be.

What we eat plays a critical role, the modernization of food and the introduction of refined white sugar, flour, and processed foods threw our microbiomes out of whack.

Your bleeding gums mean trouble in your body

I firmly believe bleeding gums are a sign something is wrong in our body.

If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, they are trying to tell you something even if it is as simple as you cut it with the brush or the floss.

If you have a little bit of bleeding when you are brushing it is not usually a sign of a more severe problem, it is just your gums way saying, help pay attention you need to brush me more.

Some people take bleeding as a sign not to touch that area, which makes it worse. If you stay away from brushing the gums too long, that bleeding increases in time and it can lead to periodontal disease. If you have gums that bleed or are inflamed chronically, it’s a sign your body is out of balance.

If left untreated, the bone will be eaten away, and you will eventually lose teeth from what I have seen in my thirty years as a dental hygienist. Periodontal disease is a symptom of a much higher imbalance in the body.

Every time you swallow thousands of bacteria are sent to your gut. The correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other metabolic disease is still not fully understood.

This is why I recommend you be your health care advocate see your dentist know what your gum health is. If you have had a deep scaling of seen a periodontist and you Gum measurements have not decreased, or you have bleeding gums, follow up with your Physician.

I believe it is an early warning sign, and we are not listening. Walking around with untreated gum disease is like walking around with an open wound on your body. Would you go months or years even with an untreated open wound anywhere else on your body?

Maybe the life you save will be your own!

 

For more information, between food and your teeth read:

The Dental Diet by DR. Steven Lin

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