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Better Oral Health, For Better Immunity: Know The Link

Oral health and immunity: The mouth is the main area that plays a significant role for your immune system, as it provides a perfect environment for the microbial colonies to thrive.

Better Oral Health, For Better Immunity: Know The Link

There is a link between oral health and immunity, say experts

Oral health is essential for your overall health in different ways. The mouth is the main area that plays a significant role for your immune system, as it provides a perfect environment for the microbial colonies to thrive. Everything that passes into your body, it generally comes through the mouth first, including the food, the liquid, and the allergens. Thus, the mouth serves as a window to the rest of the body, providing signals of general health and disease. Read on to understand the relation between immunity and oral health.

The connection between oral hygiene and the immune system

In the early 1900s, W. D. Miller and William Hunter introduced the concept of oral bacteria and sepsis. Both of them were in favor of the opinion that oral bacteria and associated infection are the probable causes of various systemic illnesses in human beings. They specified that the extent of systemic illness due to oral sepsis is determined by the virulence of oral bacterial infection and the degree of individual disease resistance. Unfortunately, that focal infection theory proposed in the earlier part of the 20th century has been discredited due to a lack of valid and scientific evidence until recently. A combination of evidence-based medicine and dentistry provides an excellent environment to study the relationship between oral infection and systemic immune diseases.

Oral hygiene can improve or hamper your health in a lot of ways. Here are the implications of a bad oral hygiene and the measures you can take to prevent its ill-effects from impacting the immune system:

1. It can lead to severe health issues

Microbes can move from the oral cavity to the rest of the body through the bloodstream. Once they are in the blood, they evoke the immune response, releasing C reactive protein. Sustained high levels of C reactive protein in the bloodstream have been linked to an increased risk of obesity and respiratory illness. Specific invasive oral pathogens have a potential role in the pathogenesis of respiratory diseases. Aspiration of pathogens from oral lesions into the respiratory tract and lung tissues triggers the respiratory infection.

Poor oral health can lead to the accumulation of food debris in the oral cavity. As, this leads to the chain of events occurring beneath the oral cavity in the immune system, wherein the white blood cells (the warrior of your immune system) are negatively affected by this logging and poor oral health. Thus, making them slow in their response and comparatively ineffective towards the microbes. Ultimately leading to the local inflammation ranging from mild inflammation in the gums to various diseases in the course of time. This chronic and long-standing inflammation has been linked to developing various illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's.


Maintain good oral hygiene to prevent several diseases
Photo Credit: iStock

2. It can affect new-born babies

Pregnant females with oral diseases and heightened immune responses can give birth to preterm low birth weight (PLBW). Babies with weight less than 2,500 g along with gestational age less than 37 weeks are considered as PLBW. This can be explained by the transmission of microbes from the infected tooth into the uterine cavity via the bloodstream. Once inside the uterine cavity, these bacteria stimulate an inflammatory cascade with the production of prostaglandins. A high concentration of prostaglandins triggers uterine muscle contraction, cervical dilation, and premature rupture of membranes leading to PLBW. The data clearly suggests that oral diseases are an important risk factor for PLBW by causing preterm labor. Prenatal oral hygiene of pregnant females is thus equally important.

3. Good habits go a long way

To reduce these lodging in the cavity you must lower the sugar intake (as sugar feeds the bad microbes); take time to chew the food as it also helps to keep bad microbes down. Larger pieces of food can make it difficult to correctly digest the food and it could remain undigested when it enters the intestines, which would allow for more bacteria to build up. You should rinse after every time to clean your mouth.

Also read: Here's How Dentists Take Care Of Their Own Teeth: Great Tips By Our Expert

4. Start at an early age

To have a better immune system, you need to take care of the oral cavity right from infancy. Gum pads of infants should be cleaned and wiped with a damp cloth to remove plaque before they start teething. Proper oral hygiene should be implemented as soon as the first primary tooth erupts in the oral cavity. Soft finger brushes and wipes are available for infants. It is advised not to use fluoridated dentifrices (toothpastes) for infants. Preschool children should use only a pea-sized amount of dentifrices. Dental flossing is recommended in interproximal areas having tooth-to-tooth contact. Children should be assisted by in tooth brushing. The scrub method is usually recommended in school children or young children because of simplicity. Children should receive a comprehensive dental examination as part of their routine health check-up every 3-6 months. Thus, proper oral hygiene preventive care is, by far, the best approach for staying healthy.

Thus, you should be more cautious about your oral health to keep your immunity intact. It is vital to cultivate good oral hygiene from an early age.

Also read: 10 Everyday Must Do's For Oral Hygiene

(Inputs by- Dr. Shalu Chandna Bathla, Dental Consultant at Aquawhite)

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