Many patients may not realize that dental health directly affects the immune system’s response. Everyone comes in contact with both viruses and bacteria that stress the body’s natural defense systems. When the body is healthy, these viruses often resolve in a few days. However, if the defenses are weak, a viral attack can prevent the system from fighting off the sickness. Read on to learn how dental health relates to the immune system.
Oral health and the body
The immune system and a patient’s overall well-being are closely linked. When there is a problem with one, the other is often affected. For example, many times early signs of medical issues can be detected in the mouth. The dentist can then refer the patient to a primary care provider.
Inflammation and the immune system
Many people who have poor oral hygiene also have health issues. Studies have shown that oral cancer and Alzheimer’s are more likely for these individuals. It is believed that inflammation is the cause of this. When a patient has an allergy or cold, there are effects in the mouth.
A simple cold can deplete the immune system. This means that the bacteria in the patient’s mouth can damage the oral structures. A dentist can see gum pocketing near the teeth and increased inflammation. Under normal conditions, the body can easily cope with the bacteria.
The body will send its defense mechanisms to fight off an illness. For example, when a patient has bleeding or deep pockets, the body sends the immune system to fight the bacteria. To fight an infection, even early gum disease, a patient needs many white blood cells. When an illness such as COVID-19 occurs, the body does not have as many resources left.
The good news is that by supporting oral health, patients can avoid issues such as infections in the mouth. That will leave the immune system free to fight more harmful organisms. The more resources each person has, the less a virus or bacteria will affect the patient. For this reason, older people often have a higher mortality rate.
The immune system of an elderly person is often run-down or depleted. Their body does not provide the kind of defense that a younger person’s body does. For people of all ages, however, the immune system can be boosted by natural methods. This includes staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods and exercise. Avoiding infections by caring for the teeth is also vital.
Care for your dental health today
You may not be able to go to your regular dentist for checkups and cleaning. However, a bit of prevention now can go a long way toward keeping you healthy. For patients who have orthodontic appliances, this can be even more important. It is often difficult to clean under them and remove food next to the gumline. No matter what your dental health is like, it is never too late to start taking care of it.
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