As we know, respiratory infections increase this time of the year and COVID-19 further exacerbates and complicates “flu season”. Individuals with lower immune systems are more susceptible to these infections. The standard advice for the prevention of these illnesses is to wash your hands and keep your immune system healthy by eating properly and exercising regularly. Prevention advice for COVID-19 further includes six feet or more of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, and always wearing a face covering when around others. Although these practices are good ways of keeping hundreds of different bacteria and viruses from getting into your system, one lesser publicized approach to healthy living and avoiding a respiratory infection is to keep your teeth clean.
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by plaque producing bacteria. The body releases what are called “cytokines” in order to defend itself against any type of infections such as periodontal infections. These cytokines trigger your body to constantly fight or defend themselves, thus weakening the body’s immune system while fighting other infections. Symptoms of periodontal infection are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. Some of the symptoms include bad breath that will not go away, red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or sensitive teeth. The American Academy of Periodontology has reported that, “Bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lung to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease.” The bacteria that are multiplying in the mouth are not only being used as viral factories but are also being breathed into the lungs. Studies have shown that 85% of the population have some degree of periodontal disease and therefore it is extremely important to get regular dental checkups. A dentist can diagnose periodontal disease in the early stages during routine teeth checkups, prior to individuals realizing that they even have it. That is one of the reasons professional cleanings at a dental office are recommended every six months.
Susceptible lung exposure is not the only part of your health that is connected to your oral health. It just so happens that this is a focus given these unprecedented times we are living in due to the attention being given to the COVID-19 pandemic. If left unchecked, poor oral health leading to increased bacteria in your mouth can also impact many other different systems in the body and be a factor in heart disease, dementia, and diabetic complications.
Based on the health benefits of preventive dental care, we at Procopio Towle Dental Office in Walnut Creek dental office would like you to consider making your next appointment for your dental checkup and teeth cleaning. We are trying our best to do everything we can to be proactive in making sure you receive the dental care you need especially when there are known benefits to simple daily dental hygiene, routine teeth cleanings, and periodontal diagnosis by your dentist. We are also proud that due to our strict guidelines and protocols when visiting our dental office, no one in our office including patients, staff, hygienists, dental assistants, and doctors, has been infected or tested positive for COVID-19. Please consider making your next appointment now and every 6-months thereafter as another aspect to being as healthy as you can be. Thank you.
Dr. Tiziana Procopio