The human mouth is an “oral microbiome” according to scientists, thanks to the usual six billion bacteria that take up residence. With bacteria hailing from 700 different species, the daily battle between good and bad bacteria rages on in the mouths of the nearly eight billion people in the world.
Scientists estimate that most of that bacteria is harmless, with only around 20% functioning as a threat to humans.
Still, as the Mayo Clinic points out, the mouth is the “entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.”
In fact, oral health can be linked to a number of conditions and diseases.
An infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves called endocarditis normally occurs when bacteria travels from one part of the body – like the mouth – goes through the bloodstream and impacts the heart. It has been found, although not fully understood, that oral health can contribute to cardiovascular disease in general. Conditions like clogged arteries and stroke could be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria. Periodontitis has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Also, people can develop pneumonia after bacteria from the mouth travels to the lungs.
Certain medications can contribute to a lesser production of saliva, which helps mitigate bacteria and other health conditions like osteoporosis, alzeheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, certain types of cancer, eating disorders and diabetes can diminish oral health.
Fortunately, there are steps people can take to safeguard their oral health and better protect themselves from conditions and diseases.
It is essential to have a conversation with the best Ottawa dentist and discuss changes in health and in medications.
Daily oral health habits can help.
Practices like brushing and flossing twice daily; using mouthwash to remove remaining food particles; eating a healthy, low sugar diet; avoiding tobacco use; replacing your toothbrush every three months or when it appears worn; and scheduling dental cleaning and check-ups regularly can help mitigate the risk posed by oral bacteria.
Tooth decay and gum disease are only a fraction of the concerns if oral health is not maintained. In addition to the other conditions discussed, scientists now believe that poor oral health can cause the release of bacteria that negatively affects the brain.
“Roughly two dozen oral species can be associated with diseases or conditions in other parts of the body,” Tara Fourre, research manager for global oral health innovation and microbiology at Johnson & Johnson told Healthline.
According to the article, one of the most notorious organisms to cause harm elsewhere in the body is Porphyromonas gingivalis, or Pg.
Jan Potempa, PhD, DSc, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, head of the department of microbiology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, refers to Pg as the sneaky “gang leader” that turns good microbes into bad.
“Researchers now know it can sneak across the blood-brain barrier, a network of dense cells that protects the brain from harmful substances. Once there, Pg can cause pathological changes,” per the article.
People can help protect their bodies by taking a few precautionary steps for oral health every day. In the battle between good and bad that exists within every mouth and body, you could consider dental floss, a toothbrush and mouthwash necessary reinforcements.