Colds, The Flu and Oral Health: Is There a Connection?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Did you know that when you practice good oral health habits you’re investing in your overall health? While researchers are only beginning to uncover these connections, the findings are significant. Let’s take a closer look.

It all begins with bacteria

When teeth and gums are not properly cared for, bacteria builds up, causing plaque to form and inflaming the gums. When gums become inflamed, bacteria can easily sneak under the gums and enter the bloodstream. Bacteria in the bloodstream can infect tissues throughout the body and make you sick.

An increased risk of developing pneumonia and chronic disease

This ripple effect of poor oral health can be a major risk factor in developing serious diseases, like pneumonia. In fact, a lot of bacteria in the mouth will increase the likelihood of developing pneumonia after a cold or the flu, sometimes by 100%.

And it’s not just pneumonia. Oral disease shares common risk factors with other chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. These risk factors include diet, tobacco, alcohol, hygiene, injuries, stress and socioeconomic status.

While it’s difficult to say at this point whether the relationships between poor oral health and chronic disease is due to association or causation, it reinforces the importance of taking good care of your teeth and gums. To learn more about the connection between oral health and other diseases, check out one of our recent posts here.

Toothbrush care tips

During cold and flu season, vigilance is your best defense. In addition to healthy eating, routine handwashing and getting enough sleep, it’s important to practice good toothbrush care. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend tossing your toothbrush after any cold or flu to avoid the likelihood of reinfection. We also recommend washing your hands before you brush and floss, rinsing your toothbrush well and allowing it to air dry after each use and keeping family members’ toothbrushes separate from each other in order to avoid cross-contamination. And regardless of the season, don’t ever share a toothbrush!

Are you experiencing any tooth pain or discomfort? Have dental health questions? Need to schedule a recare visit? Give Eggert Family Dentistry a call at 651.482.8412!

 

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