Is the Immune System Linked to Oral Health?

Your oral health has the ability to affect your entire body, and your body can affect your oral health in turn. Taking care of your smile is more than about aesthetics—the health of your teeth and gums can make a difference in the way you feel and even may affect your immunity.

But is the immune system linked to oral health, and if so, how? While research is still emerging, here’s what we know about the link between your immune system and the health of your teeth and gums!

Oral Health Conditions Can Influence Chronic Bodily Inflammation

Research has shown that a problem with your oral health can contribute to problems elsewhere in the body. For example, conditions such as gum disease can influence chronic inflammation throughout the body, which can tax the immune system [1].

Your immune system does its best to keep inflammation low in the body. Typically a response to an injury or illness, inflammation is a sign that something is wrong. When the body is actively fighting an infection, such as in gum disease, the rest of the body won’t receive the immune system’s full response because it’s busy fighting another infection.

In addition, oral bacteria that play a role in gum disease have been found in the arterial plaque that can cause heart disease, another chronic inflammatory condition [2]. While the link here isn’t conclusive, we know that oral bacteria can influence other parts of the body!

A Weakened Immune System Can Increase Your Risk for Gum Disease

Similarly to how your oral health can affect your immune system, your immune system can affect your oral health. A weakened immune system can increase your risk for certain oral health conditions such as gum disease and even oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth [3].

How does this happen? When the immune system isn’t able to properly fight the bacteria that can cause gum disease and other conditions, your risk for certain oral health problems increases. This goes to show that the immune system isn’t just important for your body, but for keeping your smile healthy too!

Your Immune System May Even Influence Your Risk for Tooth Decay

New research is showing that your immune system may even influence whether or not you get cavities. White blood cells called neutrophils that are dispatched to the mouth to help fight infection can actually cause the production of bacteria that may increase your risk for tooth decay [4].

Although the research is still emerging, this new link is yet another reminder that your body and your smile are intimately connected, so taking care of one is just as important as taking care of the other!

Support Your Smile and Your Immune System!

Your oral health and bodily health are inseparable, and more evidence is demonstrating just how important oral care is to the rest of your body, and vice versa. Getting regular checkups with your dentist can help you prevent oral disease and may just help your immune system better do its job as a result!

Sources:
1. https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/dental-health.pdf 
2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050329134246.htm
3. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/index.html
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1742706119301461

Summary
Is the Immune System Linked to Oral Health?
Article Name
Is the Immune System Linked to Oral Health?
Description
Is the immune system linked to oral health, and if so, how? While research is still emerging, here’s what we know about the link between your immune system and the health of your teeth and gums!
Author
Leesburg Family and Cosmetic Dentistry