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Especially if you are over 55
The state of our teeth has consequences for our overall health. This is especially important now.
If our dental hygiene is poor, then our immune system will waste resources fighting this threat, and have less resilience to withstand the coronavirus.
Don't stress your body by making it fight what's going on in your mouth when it could be doing better things for you. This is especially important as we get older and our immune response weakens.
This was brought to my attention when I visited the dentist a couple of months ago. I floss my teeth, but not as regularly as I should. By examining my teeth, the dentist came to this exact conclusion - "could do better", he said.
These days I am paying much more attention to his advice and I am flossing every day.
Many of today's most challenging diseases have one thing in common: chronic inflammation.
The problem with gum disease is that it creates inflammation as your body tries to fight the bacterial infection. If you don't properly care for your teeth you can end up with a bacterial infection the size of your fist brewing inside your mouth.
The inflammation causes the gums to begin bleeding, allowing bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
Here is the bit that I found scary when my dentist explained it:
Persistent oral infection leads to systemic diseases
It turns out that our mouths can host quite virulent bacteria without substantial harm. But if these same bacteria enter your bloodstream, this sends alarm bells ringing and triggers an aggressive immune system response.
That is not where you want your body to be directing its immune resources at this time.
A bacterial invasion from our mouth causes C-reactive protein, or CRP, to be released from the liver. CRP is a substance that is released whenever there is some sort of inflammation.
In the short term, it is a natural and appropriate response and doesn't do any harm. It becomes an issue when the immune response continues in the longer term. If CRP is being released constantly (due to bacteria in the mouth), then it can set off a chain reaction that eventually leads to other health conditions.
For example, when CRP stays in your system for an extended period, it contributes to the stiffening and clotting of the arteries.
Gum disease is also now definitively linked with heart disease, diabetes, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. All of these can be avoided, but cannot be undone once they happen. I know - I'm diabetic.
Here's what the researchers say "oral infection, especially periodontitis, may affect the course and pathogenesis of a number of systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, and low birth weight".
Here's what I say: brush and floss your teeth regularly, and keep up your Vitamin C levels as this supports gum health.
Gargling helps, at least does no harm
You may also want to consider gargling regularly.
Claims about the benefits of gargling are inconclusive, except those from Japan. You might be surprised to know that the Japanese Government officially recommends citizens gargle regularly.
Researchers in Japan found that gargling reduces the occurrence of colds and cases of flu.
In a small Japanese experimental study from 2002, 23 patients with chronic respiratory disease gargled four or more times a day with a povidone-iodine solution. Researchers found that compared to the number of acute respiratory infections before the group started gargling, regular gargling for several months to two years with the povidone-iodine solution led to an approximate 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of acute respiratory infections. Gargling with the solution led to a reduction in infections caused by some fairly virulent bacteria, among them Pseudomonas, Staph (including MRSA) and Haemophilus.
A "povidone-iodine" gargle solution is commonly sold under the brand name Betadine.
Other small studies have suggested potential beneficial antiviral activity of gargling with green tea or solutions containing catechins, active ingredients of green tea, or with apple cider vinegar. These studies, however, were done in the laboratory, so have unknown clinical relevance for patients, and none looked at coronavirus specifically.
I'm for gargling, nothing to lose
Personally, because there are no downsides to gargling I think that it is an excellent insurance policy against dental bacteria - especially now. We don't want our immune system distracted.
A final tip, the Oral Health Foundation suggests that we spit don't rinse after brushing our teeth so that we keep the fluoride from the toothpaste on our teeth and not wash it down the sink.
I now gargle, and I spit out after brushing my teeth rather than rinsing. Every little 1% helps at this time.
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter