In the time of COVID-19, protecting and fortifying your immune system in any way possible is likely at the top of your priorities list. Many people aren’t aware that one great way you can do this is by having good oral hygiene practices while you’re working from home or social distancing. This is due to the fact that the harmful bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for developing gum disease and cavities can also attack other parts of your body. Read on to learn how your oral health and immune system are connected and what you can do to protect both
Gum Disease: An Obstacle for Your Immune System
Gum disease is one of the most common oral health problems, impacting one out of every two Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When harmful oral bacteria accumulate in your mouth due to plaque and tartar buildup, they can cause an oral infection. The early stage of this condition is called gingivitis, and commonly causes bleeding and swollen gums and chronic bad breath. When it’s left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis that results in gum recession, pockets of bacteria that form between your teeth and gums, and even permanent tooth loss. At this point, the infection is likely irreversible, but it’s still important to treat it, or else it could impact other parts of your body.
Oral Infections & Their Ability to Spread
Toxins released by harmful oral bacteria trigger your immune system to kick in and fight off gum infections, causing your oral tissues to become inflamed and tender. These bacteria act to distract your immune system from its regular germ-killing practices, allowing the infection to spread beyond your mouth.
If the accumulation of these toxins goes uncontrolled, your immune system will become preoccupied with your mouth and leave other areas of your body unprotected. Once they get into the bloodstream, they can then travel to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and even your brain, resulting in an increased risk of developing several different medical conditions.
The Best Practices To Fortify Your Immune System
If you do have gum disease, even if it’s in its advanced stages, you should always have it treated to reduce the impact of the symptoms on the rest of your body. If you don’t have gum disease, here are a few ways that you can continue protect your immune system in addition to visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good at-home oral hygiene:
- Minimize your stress
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough rest
- Wash your hands regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Thoroughly floss your teeth
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid bad habits like smoking
When it comes down to it, protecting your immune system is all about taking care of your body, and that includes your teeth and gums. Simple actions like brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting your dentist every six months could be what stands between you and becoming seriously ill.
About the Author
Dr. Mark Farthing has been helping his patients optimize their oral health and protect their natural pearly whites by providing thorough preventive dental care for over three decades. He understands that life can get in the way of caring for your smile sometimes, which is why his main goal is to help you bounce back and get your oral health on the right track. If it has been longer than six months since you last had a checkup and cleaning, be sure to visit Indianapolis Family Dentistry’s website or call 317-898-3384 to schedule an appointment.