Bacteria – is it really as bad and damaging to our health as reports suggest? We know certain bacteria can actually promote health (hence the recent increased promotion of fermented foods and drinks) but when it comes to oral bacteria, is there anything good to report? When we hear the word bacteria, we immediately conjure up an image of unwanted germs multiplying rapidly on an unsuspecting host. But the reality is that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, the good guys are essential to our ongoing health. Oral bacteria are made up of a combination of good and bad germs that are kept in balance by a healthy diet and good oral care. When the balance is disrupted due to illness, medications, diet, or lack of oral attention, the balance swings in favour of harmful bacteria that contribute to oral disease and systemic issues.
The Connection Between Plaque and Systemic Illness
As if gingivitis, dental decay, oral inflammation, and periodontal disease weren’t enough to worry about, harmful germs that live in the mouth are also responsible for contributing to illness that reach far beyond your molars and gum tissue. From low birthweight in babies, increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems, and to the recent link to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, oral bacteria when left uncontrolled can be debilitating. Migraines, pancreatic disease, and acute stroke have all been linked to harmful oral bacteria, as has Alzheimer’s Disease, which studies show may be connected to periodontitis, an advanced stage of gum and bone disease. What does seem to be consistent with oral bacteria and both oral and systemic health is that inflammation is the symptom, and all bodily tissues are a potential target.
How To Control Oral Bacteria
The good news is that oral bacteria can be controlled so that its damaging effects can be kept to a minimum. Just like any other health regime, small daily habits have an accumulative impact on a person’s health. The simple task of daily brushing and flossing, combined with healthy food choices have a huge influence in eliminating harmful oral bacteria and keeping oral tissues healthy. Though going to the gym everyday can seem overwhelming, the slow but steady improvement of strength, endurance, and flexibility soon proves that the benefits outweigh the effort. Brushing and flossing is much like a gym routine, with the health benefits being realized through consistent daily habits.
Regular professional cleanings with a hygienist are a crucial part of keeping a mouth and body healthy, especially if the early signs of gum and bone disease are present. A professional cleaning flushes out bacteria from dental pockets and removes bacterial deposits from roots, not just tooth structure above the gumline. Seeing a hygienist on a schedule that best meets your dental needs ensures that gum and tooth health are maximized, and any changes to a person’s dental health are caught as soon as possible.