Proper Oral Hygiene Can Help Prevent Severe Disease

Taking care of your teeth could be worth more to you than a perfect smile. According to researchers at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and the Universidade de Taubate in Brazil, it could help keep you out of the intensive care unit (ICU).

Their study reported on in May through August of 2018 in the Brazilian Dental Journal, examined 182 patients in an ICU. A total of 48.3 percent of the patients who were studied suffered from periodontitis, inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues, including the bone underlying the teeth.

The patients diagnosed with periodontitis, those with two or more all-over body diseases, and those with heart and blood vessel disease had high levels of IL-1, a molecule that raises the body temperature and readies the body to fight microbial invaders.

High levels of IL-1 are linked with severity of heart and blood vessel disease…

  • IL-1 is produced by white blood cells, skin cells, and inner blood vessel cells. When it is present, it indicates inflammation, a concern because conditions such as Type 2 diabetes are diseases related to the inflammatory state.

The participants with two or more all-over body diseases also had higher levels of IL-6, as did the participants with Type 2 diabetes…

  • IL-6 is produced by white blood cells and is pro-inflammatory although, interestingly, it is anti-inflammatory in muscle tissue.

Type 2 diabetes patients are susceptible to plaque, formed by bacteria in the mouth, as well as periodontitis and heart and blood vessel disease…

  • high levels of sugar in the mouth feed bacteria.
  • poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a dry mouth, without enough saliva to wash away the bacteria.

As plaque becomes worse, gums can become inflamed and recede, a condition known as gingivitis. As the inflammation spreads to connective tissue and bone periodontitis develops. Periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss, and risk of the disease goes up with aging.

People diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes need to become dedicated to tooth care. A soft toothbrush should be used after every meal, and flossing needs to be performed twice a day. Brushing and flossing before bed are helpful because it leaves the teeth, gums, and mouth clean for an extended period. Type 2 diabetics need to be seen by their dentists twice a year or as prescribed by their doctor and dentist. It is rewarding to know proper oral hygiene can help prevent severe disease.