A New Year’s resolution that makes you smile and improves your health!
January 6, 2023
What if you finally found a New Year’s resolution with multiple, long-lasting positive health impacts that you could stick to with one easy-to-make change?
Look no further – we have the perfect resolution to start 2023 off the right way – and to ensure that you have many future new years to celebrate!
We all know that taking care of your oral health is important to have an attractive smile. Practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing twice daily with a fluoride containing toothpaste and regular flossing, is critical as is limiting sugar containing foods. If your resolution this year is to get regular dental checkups and cleanings to have that movie-star smile, you are already making a great health-conscious choice. However, did you know that the positive impact of this seemingly small step can affect essentially every organ system in your body, and maybe even save your life?
The key is combating one of the most common processes that occurs all the time in our body –inflammation. Inflammation
is our body’s cellular response to injury or attack. Inflammation itself is a sign that our body is mounting a protective response to something abnormal, such as an infection or injury, and is an important step to healing. This type of inflammation is called acute inflammation
and is a normal response that begins the body’s recovery process. However, there is a second type of inflammation that is not beneficial, undermines our health and makes us more prone to disease. Chronic inflammation
occurs when your body continues sending inflammatory cells when there is no injury, or in response to an untreated cause of acute inflammation or irritants that remain on a long-term basis.
How does inflammation relate to your mouth?
One of the most powerful causes of inflammation in our bodies is bacteria. The mouth is home to a huge array of good bacteria, which in a healthy mouth is important because they keep bad organisms in check. Unfortunately, when we neglect our dental health, the balance between good and bad bacteria becomes altered. All of us produce tartar, also known as calculus, as a normal by-product of the saliva in our mouths. Unfortunately, the calculus builds up on our teeth and if not removed with regular dental cleanings becomes a haven for the bad bacteria in our mouths. If this calculus and the bacteria within it are not removed, it begins to destroy the bone and gum tissue that support the teeth and can lead to a chronic infection called periodontal disease
. When the bacteria associated with periodontal disease remain in our mouths for an extended amount of time, it causes the chronic inflammation
that is damaging to our bodies. Additionally, the toxic bacteria in periodontal disease also have easy access through the mouth to the bloodstream, and once there can travel and cause infections elsewhere in the body.
How does periodontal disease impact the health of your entire body?
The chronic inflammation
caused by untreated periodontal disease has been shown in multiple research studies to have a detrimental effect on many organ systems. One of the most damaging is the link to the development and progression of cardiovascular disease
. The constant inflammatory response that is triggered by periodontal disease is thought to weaken the lining of blood vessels throughout our bodies, making them more susceptible to plaque formation, ultimately leading to vessel blockage. This can cause strokes, heart attacks and organ damage throughout the body. For individuals with diabetes
, chronic inflammation makes the management of blood sugar much more difficult, leading to a higher incidence of diabetes related consequences in the body, such as kidney failure, poor circulation leading to extremity amputation and blindness. Chronic inflammation has also been shown to increase the likelihood of developing other serious diseases, such as colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and pneumonia
. Finally, circulating levels of toxic periodontal bacteria in the bloodstream have been shown to cause potentially life-threatening infections including endocarditis, liver and brain abscesses
, and infections after total joint replacements
The great news is that definitive treatment of periodontal disease by a dental professional
will remove the bacteria-laden calculus that is responsible for producing the chronic inflammatory process and reduce the bacteria circulating in the bloodstream, thereby decreasing the risk of all these serious health effects significantly. Because the diagnosis of periodontal disease and its treatment can only be done by a dentist, making a resolution to prioritize your oral health in 2023 will do more than just make you smile – it can potentially save your life. Now that is a resolution with some teeth.
UT Dentistry makes your New Year’s resolution to get healthy easy to keep.
The General Dentistry Clinic
at UT Dentistry is the perfect place to start, providing outstanding and compassionate care from an experienced dental care team. With a convenient location and accommodating hours, there’s no room for excuses. And being part of UT Dentistry, the region’s largest and most comprehensive oral health care provider, patients have a dental care home they can trust.
Appointments and information for the General Dentistry Clinic are available by calling 210-56 SMILE (210-567-6453) or by requesting an appointment online at UTHealthDental.com.