We had a great personal friend that we could never convince to come in for routine dental care. He only came in when a tooth broke. He always refused a cleaning because he always flossed and brushed his teeth every day.

Over ten years ago, he passed away of pancreatic cancer. Although his wife was the head of pathology at OSU and both his daughters were physicians, at that point no one could save him. It may be just a coincidence, but we have learned of the link between oral bacteria and pancreatic cancer. It reminds us that it’s important to do what we can, when we can, to care for our bodies. And that we can’t always do everything for ourselves, but should accept the help of others while we can.

A woman smiling

Your Mouth Is Constantly Exposed to Toxins

Virtually everything that enters your body passes through your mouth. Even your breath passes through the rear of your mouth. That’s why your mouth is designed like the entrance to a fortress, with numerous baffles and traps to keep unwanted bacteria and toxins from penetrating further into the body.

The mouth is designed to collect and trap bacteria, especially in places like the tonsils. The numerous crypts are designed for holding and killing bacteria. Sometimes this can backfire, as when tonsil stones accumulate and acquire a foul odor —bad breath.

Or when oral bacteria can begin to congregate and thrive around the teeth. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the greatest threat to your teeth, and your health.

Tartar is another instance of the body’s own defenses backfiring. Tartar — also called dental calculus — is the hardened deposits that develop around the base of your teeth in places where you have difficulty cleaning. These deposits are basically fossilized plaque.

Our saliva contains minerals that help remineralize our teeth, but these minerals can also be absorbed by plaque, turning the soft smudge into a hard crust that you can’t remove with your toothbrush.

This crust shelters oral bacteria, allowing them to thrive. Under the shelter of tartar, oral bacteria can thrive, creating a new home between your gums and teeth, constantly expanding the space. Tooth grow loose as the infection penetrates deep into the bone.

Your Body on Alert

In response to this deep infection, the body executes its “nuclear option,” calling out destructive immune cells that destroy bone as well as bacteria in an effort to try to stop the infection. This is the third instance of the body’s own defense mechanisms backfiring, because it’s as much our immune response as bacteria that lead to tooth loss.

And while the immune response is on high alert in the mouth, the inflammatory signals are traveling through the body. Every place in the body is on orange alert, then red, and under the strain, the body reacts in unpredictable ways. Diabetes has been linked to chronic inflammation. As has cancer. And sometimes the immune system cracks under the strain, attacking the body as well as bacteria in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.

This is all because our bodies can’t really handle this type of chronic infection.

Let Us Help

The backfiring and malfunctioning immune responses are the product of a body that is constantly taxed from immune system stress, although you may never know it. All you see is red, inflamed gums, and maybe a little blood when you brush. Until your teeth become loose, and that’s when there’s a serious problem.

Do what you can to protect your teeth. Brush. Floss. Watch what you eat. But let us do what you can’t: remove the tartar from your teeth, assess the level of infection, and give you a treatment like Perio Protect that can target oral bacteria and let your immune system stand down from high alert. That way everyone can rest, and the body can see lower risk of heart problems, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and more.

To learn more about the benefits of regular dental care, please call (614) 848-5001 today for an appointment with Columbus dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian.