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Gum Disease and Your Overall Health

Gum Disease and Your Overall Health

Does the condition of your teeth and gums affect the rest of your body?  The scientific literature strongly supports the fact that the condition of your mouth impacts systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  A recent study also indicates that gum disease has a significant impact on the immune response. Using both a mouse and a human model, the study showed for the first time that oral inflammation in the form of periodontal (gum) disease can prime the innate immune system.

A mouse was induced with gum disease and subsequently induced with an acute infection in the peritoneal space (an area in the abdomen). The immune response was observed and compared with the response of a control mouse without gum disease.

The mouse with gum disease developed a more exuberant inflammatory response to the acute infection which lasted longer and created other problems.

Then, healthy people were asked not to clean their teeth for several weeks.  Blood was then collected and their immune response examined to assess the response of their white blood cells.

The blood from a healthy person with no gum disease displayed a normal response.  When that same person had gum disease a very exuberant response of neutrophils was recorded. When they started to brush their teeth again, the white cell response went back to normal.

It was concluded that white cells can be primed by oral inflammation so that when they receive a second challenge they nrespo0nd very quickly. For example, if a person with gum disease has a cardiovascular condition such as atherosclerosis, their white blood cells may be more sensitive and more likely to interact with plaque on a blood vessel which could lead to other problems.

During this time of a global pandemic when patients may not be attending for regular dental hygiene appointments, the resulting gingivitis may prime their immune system leading to problems in patients with diabetes or heart disease. This highlights the importance of basic good oral hygiene and prevention of initial oral inflammation.

Studies are now emerging that suggest people with gum disease (or a history of it) may respond poorly when exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The elimination of all oral infections is critically important to overall wellbeing