A recent study published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology just revealed something rather surprising, even for dentists who have studied the mouth quite a bit. In this study, researchers wanted to find what kinds of bacteria are typically present in clinically healthy coronary and femoral artery tissues. The human body is filled with bacteria, and most of it is harmless or even helpful, but they wanted to see if anything in this particularly sensitive part of the anatomy could have serious health implications. While they did find a large array of bacteria, the one particular strain that turned out to be the most common was actually P. gingivalis, a highly toxic, common oral pathogen. How did it get their? What does this mean for your oral and heart health? Your dentist in Putnam discusses this little known connection.
How Your Gums and Heart Are Connected
You likely completely understand that your gums and heart are physically connected, but how does bacteria in your mouth get into your arteries? The answer lies in something called the oral systemic link.
This is the principle that pretty much anything in your mouth has the ability to travel to anywhere in your body. This concept is pretty easy to understand when you think about digestion. Food enters the mouth, goes into the stomach, and eventually is broken down into chemical energy that travels throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your mouth is the primary portal to your body, and unfortunately, it’s quite easy for potentially harmful things, like bacteria, to travel through it as well.
This is what led to the findings in this study. If a person has an excess of bacteria in their mouth due to a lack of oral hygiene or an underlying medical condition, it is very easy for that bacteria to get into the bloodstream via the gums because they are very vascular structures filled with numerous blood vessels. From there, the bacteria can end up in pretty much any internal organ, and it sometimes can cause damage in the form of inflammation. This is why patients with gum disease tend to have much higher rates of other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia.
What This Means For You
Now that you know this, it’s even more important to take care of your mouth than before, and not just for your smile’s sake. Fortunately, you’re probably already familiar with the best ways to do this, as in brushing and flossing every day and regularly seeing your dentist. This will help keep the appropriate balance of bacteria in your mouth so it can’t become a problem elsewhere.
Of course, dentists around the country are putting this information to use as well. Now, they can do something called salivary testing, where they take a small sample of your saliva, send it to a lab, and the results will reveal what kinds of bacteria you have in your mouth and how much. Should you show an excessive amount of harmful bacteria, your dentist can then implement a variety of treatments to bring everything back into balance.
When it comes to your body, a healthy mouth is key to a healthy heart, so be sure to brush consistently and see your dentist routinely. With that, both your teeth and heart will stay strong for years to come, and that’s certainly worth smiling about.
About the Author
Dr. Walter McGinn is a graduate of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and has 30 years of experience serving the people of Putnam, CT as a family, restorative, and cosmetic dentist. He currently practices at Quiet Corner Dental, and if you would like to learn more about taking care of your oral and overall health, he can be contacted through his website.