What do you think would happen if you stopped brushing your teeth for two weeks? You might expect to have bad breath and experience some tooth decay – that much seems obvious. While you may assume that the rest of your well-being would remain at least relatively intact, a new BBC two-part documentary series called “Your Teeth” revealed that oral health impacts the rest of your body.
Going where no doctor has gone before
Dr. Christoffer Van Tulleken is an infectious diseases specialist who, in his article for the Daily Mail, expressed his insistence on maintaining a healthy mouth. However, he chose to forgo his best judgment to participate in the BBC series. In the show, Tulleken and dentist Serpil Djemal investigate how his declining oral health affected the rest of his body.
To do this, Tulleken wore a gum guard on half of his teeth for two weeks. That way, when he brushed his teeth, only some of them would get cleaned. Researchers then compared his clean teeth with the neglected ones and ran tests to see how much damage had been done.
From dirty to dangerous
As you may expect, Tulleken’s unbrushed teeth weren’t in the best condition. He developed mild gum disease on the one side, and when he could finally brush properly, his gums bled. Tulleken noted that if he had continued to neglect brushing, he’d risk losing some teeth. These results might not be surprising, yet Tulleken and Djemal found other issues that may be more alarming.
Blood tests revealed that Tulleken’s white blood cells, which combat infections and support the immune system, weren’t effectively fighting his gum infection. They were found to be meandering oddly not only around the site of the infection, but throughout his whole body. Basically, Tulleken’s entire body experienced inflammation as a result of the infection.
When experienced in small amounts, inflammation helps the body fight infection. However, prolonged issues (which can be caused by not brushing your teeth for too long) may lead to all sorts of illnesses. In fact, chronic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease – all this from gum disease.
Protecting teeth, protecting health
“Your Teeth” and Tulleken and Djemal’s experiment goes to show how important oral health is. By neglecting your teeth, you can increase your risk for a host of ailments. If you don’t maintain careful oral hygiene, get started by brushing your teeth twice a day with a detergent-free toothpaste. You should also floss once daily and regularly visit your dentist for routine cleaning.
Additionally, avoid sugar. It combines with oral bacteria to create acid that attacks your enamel. This onslaught occurs for a set period of time after eating sugar, which means constantly nibbling on sweets all day is worse for your teeth than having one period of sugar intake.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.