We loved seeing a recent article published by Fast Company describing how MIT researchers found that visiting the dentist was one of the few situations where “leaving your bubble” had amazing benefits that far outweighed the minimal risks of contracting COVID-19. This is supported by recent studies that show that COVID-19 patients with periodontal disease face a greater risk of dying. While we’ve always understood the importance of good oral health and the relationship it has to a strong immune system, it’s a good reminder that oral health has far reaching impacts on multiple facets of our body.
Our immune system is a complex system of cells, organs, tissues and proteins that patrol our bodies looking for invaders that may cause us harm. Inflammation caused by these invaders attracts immune cells that attack harmful organisms and bacteria. One of the best ways to keep our immune system healthy, and to prevent it from getting overwhelmed, is to reduce sources of inflammation.
One common cause of inflammation is found within the bacteria in our mouth. Most of what we find in our mouth is common and healthy bacteria, but lack of good oral care can lead to a buildup of unhealthy bacteria. These “bad” bacteria cause localized problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. They can also enter your bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body. Scientists have reported strong correlations between systemic problems such as heart disease, diabetes, preterm or low birth weight babies, and gum disease.
Daily brushing and flossing help remove food debris that the “bad” bacteria feed on. Regular dental appointments allow us to also help to remove harder deposits that adhere to your tooth where a toothbrush and floss are unsuccessful in removing the debris. We use a variety of recommended treatments to control bacteria on tooth structure causing tooth decay: fluoride, laser bacterial decontamination, scaling and root planing, fillings, or crowns. These treatments help improve your overall oral health and have proven to effectively decrease overall inflammation.
Some patients may not have heard of laser bacterial decontamination and may be wondering whether this should be included with a typical cleaning. For many, the laser therapy has proven very effective in reducing irritated and inflamed gums. Laser bacterial decontamination is targeted toward areas in the mouth with gum inflammation to quickly and safely decrease bacterial load reducing inflammation.
Protecting ourselves from COVID-19 is top priority for all of us. Wearing masks and physically distancing when possible are commonly described methods to stay healthy. We must also remember to keep our immune systems in tip-top shape. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a great way to help our immune system function at the highest level. For additional details on how we’re keeping you safe during your dental appointment, please see our previous blog post that describes some of the additions and changes we’ve made. Your safety is a top priority and we want to be sure we’re taking the utmost care of each and every one of you!