You don’t need to be the best dentist in SW Portland to know that impact poor oral hygiene has on the health of our teeth and gums. Since childhood most of us have heard that eating too much sugar can rot our teeth, and that brushing and flossing everyday was the best way of preventing cavities. What you might not realize, however, is the surprising connection researchers have found that link our oral health with our overall health.

Patients who regularly read our Burlingame Dental Arts blog know that a growing amount of research has found connections linking common dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease to a growing number of chronic health problems. Studies have found that patients suffering from decay, periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease) and tooth loss have a higher risk for developing such chronic conditions as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and cancer.

One recent study even found that gum disease could even interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure medication, making it hard for patients to manage their hypertension.

The opposite also appears true, as a number of studies have recently found that by taking better care of our oral health we can actually help to improve or better manage certain medical conditions. Another recent study found that better brushing habits could help patients lower their risk for heart disease, while a lot of research has shown that diabetes patients who regularly take care of their oral health have a much easier time managing their blood sugar levels.

Now, a new study suggests that better brushing habits may also help to prevent and manage lupus and other diseases.

Researchers from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have found a link between gum disease and lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and organs.

“Our findings suggest a simple message: If there is good dental care, patients have a good chance of experiencing less severe disease,” wrote researchers. “With further research, we might be able to help prevent these diseases altogether.”

Better Brushing Means Better Health

As part of their study, researchers elected to study the impact of oral health on lupus, a disease that impacts the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Americans. The focus of this latest research project was on bacteria commonly found in the mouth that’s been previously linked with gum disease.

“Our study shows that patients who might have been exposed to gum disease-causing bacteria show higher lupus activity. Therefore, we expect that a seemingly small change, like brushing and flossing regularly, could benefit patients who are already on a host of powerful medications by allowing them to modify their treatment with fewer drugs,” wrote researchers. “Importantly, fewer drugs can mean fewer side effects.”

Based on their findings, the research team believe that a strong argument can now be made for using improved dental care as an additional therapy option for patients with lupus. Researchers are also hopeful that their findings could also lead to new methods of disease detection.

“Poor oral health can contribute to a variety of diseases,” wrote researchers. “Taking care of your teeth now could help you avoid type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Protecting Your Oral Health

Once again, maintaining and improving our oral health proves to be vitally important when it comes to protecting our long-term health. What this and other research has shown is that brushing and flossing and scheduling regular visits to see the team at Burlingame Dental Arts can no longer be considered optional or something we do when we remember.

Scheduling regular visits to see the best dentist in SW Portland allows our team to spot the early signs of decay and gum disease before they problem has a chance to progress. Frequent cleanings give our team of gentle dental hygienists the chance to remove plaque deposits from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line before the bacteria has a chance to contribute to the development of gum disease.

Maintaining a healthy smile is no longer just a point of pride, it’s necessary for enjoying better overall health, now and into the future.