Health & Wellness: Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

toothbrush
image courtesy pixabay.com

By Tanyah Williams, Washington State Patrol

Did you know healthy teeth and gums can affect your heart health?

Dr. Arne Gundersen, from Gundersen Dental Care  in Thurston County gave a health and wellness talk at at a recent ICSEW meeting. His presentation, “The Link between Oral Health and Wellness,” illustrated the correlation between periodontal disease and its impact on our overall health.

Using slides featuring oral anatomy drawings, Gendersen explained periodontal disease, an inflammatory response due to an infection or buildup of bacteria or debris around the teeth. Bacteria can infiltrate blood vessels and over time release proteins into the blood stream.

Man standing in front of PowerPoint slide of a tooth
Dr. Gundersen speaks at the ICSEW’s March 2019 meeting at the Department of Labor and Industries. Photo by Rachel Friederich

He also noted some research that links between oral health and the body’s cardiovascular system. For instance, Gundersen said there’s evidence that poor oral health can be linked to cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke heart attack and hemorrhaging.  Gundersen said researchers are also trying to figure out if poor oral health has a correlation to diabetes. He said researchers believe periodontitis can affect sugar levels in the body.

Gundersen offered some steps you can take between dentist appointments to improve your oral health to reduce your risk of periodontal disease and other serious health problems.

Dr. Gundersen’s Tips For Better Oral Hygiene

  • Brush and floss daily.
  • Invest in a water pic. This helps minimize the bacteria build up that brushing and flossing may miss.
  • Give an electric tooth brush a try. Brushing with a regular brush involves a lot of manual circular motions, which a lot of people don’t do correctly. An electric toothbrush does the motion for you.
  • Use bleach. Combine 1 teaspoon of bleach with one half cup of water to form a rinse.  Do this no more than twice a week.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
  • For those who grind and/or clench their teeth, use a night guard. Grinding and clenching teeth wares down bone quickly and a night guard can prevent this from happening.