Exploring the Link Between Oral Health, Asthma, Allergies & Eczema

The mouth is teeming with bacteria. Most of this bacteria is the good sort which helps in the normal function of your teeth and gums, but there is still a chance you may be suffering from periodontal or gum disease.

Gum disease is said to be one of the most common ailments in the world. There’s almost as many people suffering from gum disease as the common flu at any given moment in time. But most people don’t realize that gum disease could have much more fatal consequences. In the past, studies have linked the seemingly benign disease to various other forms of bodily ailments such as- diabetes, heart disease, asthma and, in severe circumstances, cancer.

The Window to Your Health
There is a substantially growing amount of evidence supporting the notion that the mouth is the window to our body’s overall health and wellbeing. Particularly gum disease or periodontal disease has been observed by experts to be closely correlated to other forms of ailments people generally suffer.

The bacteria associated with gum disease was, at first, thought to be the primary contributing factor. It was believed that as gum disease worsened the bacterial growth increased and spread to other parts of the body and created different sorts of issues there. Recently, though, there is a growing consensus that inflammation is the leading cause for this link between deteriorating oral health and overall wellness issues.

Asthma & Allergies
Studies have shown that the most common ailment associated with gum disease is asthma. Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that when adjusted with other factors, such as age, sex, height, weight, smoking habits and lifestyle choices, the patients suffering from gum disease were most at risk for developing asthma.

The debate on whether gum disease is related to other forms of health issues is still ongoing. Whether it’s bacteria or inflammation or both which cause these problems is still relatively unknown. Research is ongoing but there is a lot of evidence to show that the irritants present in the body can migrate to other parts, sometimes leading to minor allergies.

Bacterial infection is considered to be the main cause for gum disease leading to respiratory problems such as asthma. Pneumonia is also said to be caused in certain cases where the bacteria in the mouth is transmitted to the lungs via the windpipe.

Asthma is itself closely associated with a sort of skin irritation whose cause has not yet been uncovered – atopic eczema. Eczema is a sort of skin inflammation which cause the skin to redden, dry out, itch and crack. Patients, especially children, suffering from asthma are said to be at a higher risk for this sort of skin ailment. Dry and irritated skin is a fairly common problem and this sort of eczema is mainly triggered by allergens in the body.

Susceptibility to allergies, asthma and eczema are all correlated to developing gum disease. The best way to combat these ailments is to take much better care of oral hygiene.

Preventative Care
Brushing the teeth twice a day, once before bed at night and once in the morning, is a common staple of good oral care. But a lot of people don’t understand the importance of brushing for longer, preferably two minutes, for better results.

Also, a lot of people are unaware of the amount of fluoride their toothpaste contains or the amount that is actually recommended for use. Fluoride is highly effective in protecting your teeth from tooth decay, which is why it is being added to mainstream toothpastes by manufacturers. The element is naturally present in food sometimes and is known to also eradicate your mouth of almost all its bacteria. The recommended level of fluoride is 0.7-0.2 parts for every million parts of water.

Oil Pulling
You’ve no doubt heard about the health craze, oil pulling. Though it’s taken on a new life in the health world these days, it’s not new at all – the practice actually has old roots in Ayurveda Indian medicine.  It simply involves swishing around with a plant-based oil (coconut, sesame, sunflower) for about 15 minutes, which is said to improve oral health and draw out toxins from the body.

A casual perusal of online article on oil pulling will present a whole host of health issues that the practice supposedly cures; everything from hangovers to sinus infections to eczema.  While there doesn’t seem to be definitive proof of any of this, it makes perfect sense that faithful oil pullers would see a variety of health benefits.

Oil pulling is a great way to keep your mouth very clean, and having a very clean mouth helps to maintain health in the rest of your body as well.  So while I’d hesitate to endorse oil pulling as a cure-all for anything, it is one way to ensure good oral health, which has a myriad of benefits.

You can protect yourself from all the issues caused by gum disease by simply brushing and flossing regularly, replacing the toothbrush you use once every 3 months and eating a healthy diet. Regular dental checkups will also be useful in spotting signs of gum disease early and treating it effectively. Detecting gum disease early will be your best chance at avoiding any of the other health issues correlated with it.

About the Author: 
Dr. Kimberly Dyoco is a Chicago dentist who founded One Mag Smile, a practice that specializes in both general and cosmetic dentistry.  Dr. Dyoco loves exploring the many links between oral health and the rest of the body and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion as a guest author on a wide variety of health and lifestyle publications. To find out more, check out www.1magSmile.com.


*Our content is not intended to provide medical advice or diagnosis of individual problems or circumstances, nor should it be implied that we are a substitute for professional medical advice. Users / readers are always advised to consult their Healthcare Professional prior to starting any new remedy, therapy or treatment. Your Wellness Group accepts no liability in the event you, a user of n-gage and a reader of this article, suffers a loss as a result of reliance upon or inappropriate application of the information.

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