As your holistic dentist in Denver, our team at McGinty Dental Group want patients to better understand just how connected your oral health is to your overall health. While it’s easy to think of your oral health as only relating to your teeth and gums, recent studies have actually found that an individual’s oral health plays a significant role in determining their overall health as well.
Researchers have found compelling links that suggest individuals suffering from gum disease and tooth decay have a significantly higher risk of developing a range of chronic illnesses that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, stroke, arthritis, and even some forms of cancer.
Conversely, other recent studies have found that many of the nutrients we ingest also provide benefits when topically applied in the mouth. Working as a natural defender against the effects of gum disease, these natural compounds can help lower your risk of diseases caused by gum disease and inflammation.
Gum Tissue’s Role in the Creation of Disease
When healthy, your mouth is cool, dark and damp. In other words, the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Cavities and problems with gum tissue mark just the beginning of the difficulties you can experience when suffering from poor oral health. Gingivitis – an early form of gum disease – causes low-grade inflammation of your gum tissue, resulting in gums that feel swollen, red and tender, and that bleed easily after brushing. As gingivitis progresses into the more severe periodontitis, the disease will begin to erode away at the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth into position.
Oral inflammation has also been linked to elevated markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein. This ranks as one of the many reasons researchers believe that gum disease can increase your risk of systemic disease.
How Nutrition Can Help Protect Your Oral Health
Considering how significantly poor hygiene can impact your overall health, it makes sense to utilize any advantage you can get to help prevent even the most routine oral health problems from developing.
Studies have shown that there are a variety of nutrients that have very favorable effects when used as part of a daily oral hygiene regimen. These nutrients can be found in foods such as green tea and pomegranate and ointments like aloe vera. Other beneficial compounds that help improve oral health include folic acid (commonly found in spinach, beans, breads and rice), lactoferrin (milk) and xylitol (chewing gum, peanut butter, toothpaste and chewable vitamins).
The Mouth/Body Connection
There are a variety of other natural compounds that you can incorporate into your daily oral hygiene routine that can help protect your teeth and gums. The natural sweetener xylitol, for example, not only helps to improve the taste of sugar-free gum, it has also been linked in studies to the prevention of tooth decay. Squalene helps improve the immune system’s ability to destroy harmful microbes, while lactoferrin has been shown to stop the growth of bacteria responsible for the development of periodontitis.
What your holistic dentist in Denver, McGinty Dental Group, hopes you’ll take away from this is the idea that diet plays a significant role in protecting not only your oral health, but your overall health as well. Our bodies are truly interconnected. The vitamins, nutrients and compounds we consume play a very real role in determining our health now and in the future.