• Joan Rothchild Hardin

Oral Health and Overall Health

Numerous studies have identified three ways oral disease can affect the health elsewhere in the body:

  • Pathological bacteria in periodontal disease can enter the body’s circulatory system through inflamed gums and travel throughout the body. As these bacteria travel, they may cause secondary infections or contribute to a disease process already underway in other tissues and organs.

  • Pathological bacteria in the gums enter the saliva. Each time you inhale, you aspirate bacteria laden water droplets into your lungs, potentially causing pulmonary infections and pneumonia – a serious problem for the elderly and people with generalized weakened immunity. Inflammatory mediators called ‘cytokines’ found in inflamed gums can also enter your saliva. They too get aspirated into the lungs, where they have inflammatory effects on the lower airway, contributing further to pulmonary complications.