Your immune system works hard to keep you healthy and to shut down illness, viruses, and infection. You know that getting plenty of rest, eating a proper diet, and exercise can all play a role in fighting off illness and keeping your immune system strong, but did you know that taking care of your teeth and gums can also boost your immunity? Our dentists in Cary and Holly Springs are sharing how good dental health can improve your overall health.

The Connection Between Dental Health and Immune Health

Your mouth contains bacteria that feed on sugars and food particles left on your teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing, and avoiding foods high in sugar reduce and remove the bacteria. However, if left to grow, it will attack your tooth enamel and gums leading to gingivitis and tooth decay. You already know this, but how does this affect your immune system?

As your teeth develop cavities and your gums recede or begin bleeding from gingivitis, bacteria can enter the bloodstream. When this happens, you may experience red, swollen gums or swelling around an abscessed tooth. Swelling and redness are signs of inflammation, your immune system’s response to fight off infection as bacteria from your teeth and gums enters the bloodstream. As your body is continually working to produce white blood cells to protect the body, this constant strain to fight off oral bacteria and infection can lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body.

What Is Chronic Inflammation?

If the local area doesn’t heal (meaning, in the case of cavities, abscessed teeth, or gum disease, the areas are cared for by a dentist), and your body is continuing to try and fight off infection and bacteria through an inflammatory immune response, it can lead to a constant low-level amount of inflammation throughout the body. Because your body is continuing to send out white blood cells and fight off infection, the immune system becomes depleted, leaving you susceptible to both short-term and chronic illness.

Health Problems Associated with Poor Dental Health

In addition to cavities and gum disease, having poor dental health can directly lead to chronic inflammation which is attributed to a lengthy list of serious health problems, including:

  • Cancer – Inflammatory cells can damage healthy cells and even cause DNA damage which leads to certain forms of cancer
  • Heart disease – Inflammatory cells promote a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
  • Diabetes – Chronic inflammatory chemicals can lead to insulin resistance. When the body is less sensitive to insulin, higher blood sugar can result, leading to type II diabetes.

Additionally, your body’s immune system is depleted to fight against short-term illnesses. Having poor dental health can also lead to a stronger likelihood of catching colds and other short-term or acute illness.

Healthy Teeth Can Keep You Healthy

By taking care of your teeth to remove bacteria and seeing your dentist for checkups, you can keep your immune system focused on fighting other threats, whether it’s a cold or flu outbreak or more serious health issues. When you’re trying to stay healthy, a good offense against bacteria is your best form of defense!

Schedule a Checkup at Our Holly Springs and Cary Dentist Offices

Brushing and flossing are an essential part of having healthy teeth, but you don’t want to forget regular dental checkups and cleanings. Schedule a checkup with us today by filling out the form below, by calling our Cary dentist’s office at 919-467-2203 or Holly Springs office at 919-600-6262.