With the outbreak of COVID-19, many people are searching for ideas on how they can fortify their health and reduce their risk of becoming seriously ill. Things like managing your weight and getting proper nutrition can certainly help with that. But did you know that your oral health is also a huge factor in your overall health? A holistic dentist is here to explain how what happens in your mouth can affect your immune system’s ability to keep you well.
Bacterial Invasion and Your Immune System
In healthy individuals, the immune system provides a very efficient means for fighting off pathogens. In fact, it is so effective that most mild infections may go completely unnoticed. However, the immune system can only handle so much. When it becomes overloaded as it tries to fight off an infection, you may become more vulnerable to other types of illness. You can think of it this way: Your immune system is like an army. It has to deploy troops to fight off an infection. If too many troops are focused on one part of the battlefield, fewer are available to ward off attacks from other directions.
This often happens to individuals with gum disease. An overabundance of harmful bacteria in the gum tissue leads to inflammation. As the bacteria multiple and invade the bloodstream, the immune system fights to kill the bacteria before it causes serious harm. However, if the cause of the infection — gum disease — is not addressed, the bacterial invasion will continue indefinitely and place excess stress on the immune system. As the overworked immune system battles gum disease, it has fewer resources available to fight other sources of infection. Hence, an individual becomes more vulnerable to illness.
C-reactive protein (CRP) also plays a role in how your oral health interacts with your immune system. CRP is a substance that your liver releases in response to inflammation, including the inflammation caused by gum disease. On a short-term basis, CRP is harmless. However, continually high levels of CRP are correlated with numerous health conditions, including an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Protecting Your Immune System
Taking care of your oral health is one major way in which you can protect and fortify your immune system. Your dentist can help you do this through regular cleanings, checkups, and, if necessary, gum disease treatment.
Some other methods you can use to protect your oral health and your immune system include:
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet that is low in sugar
- Find healthful ways to manage stress
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Regularly engage in moderate exercise
Do you want to equip your body to fight off disease? Caring for your oral health can provide a big boost for your immune system.
About the Author
Dr. William Langston has more than four decades of experience in dentistry. He has spent much of that time focused on providing holistic care for his patients. Among the many services he offers are cleanings, checkups, periodontal therapy, and more. To learn more about Dr. Langston and how his services can benefit your whole-body health, contact our team at 972-270-6533.