Your mouth – the body’s first line of defence

Dr Bigg News: Your mouth – the body’s first line of defence

We all know how important a healthy mouth is to look good and to enjoy a healthy diet.  But research is beginning to show that a healthy mouth is also important for a healthy body.

So, why is the mouth so special?

The mouth is a unique.  Elsewhere the body is sealed from infection by a layer of skin or mucous membrane.  Only in the mouth is this layer broken by the teeth passing through a mucous membrane, in this case called the gums.

So, how is infection prevented?

A shallow channel, called the sulcus, surrounds each tooth.  This is kept moist by a flow of fluid from the blood vessels of the gum. The fluid contains the defence mechanisms that the body has to combat infections.

However, 80% of us have some form of gum disease and this can affect the delicate balance in the sulcus and lead to some of the germs entering the blood supply.
What happens when germs enter our blood?

Our blood contains special cells that eat up foreign bodies such as bacteria, but if gums disease is present, the number of germs can be too great and they travel round the body through the blood system.  So far research has shown that gum disease may be linked with:

 Diabetes – people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and gum disease may make it more difficult for the diabetic person to control their blood sugar
• Heart Disease – gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease.  The bacteria in the blood may attach themselves to the thickened heart arteries or valves causing infective endocarditis
• Stroke – one study has shown the people who had a stroke were more likely to have gum disease
• Lung Disease – gum disease increases the risk of bacteria from the mouth entering the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.

So good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist don’t just give us a nice smile, they will help us to live a longer healthier life.

If you want more information about the contents of the article, contact Penny at Milton Dental Practice: 01993 831 396 or email and come to see us for a consultation.


Posted: 18 May 2016