News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
Exercise Can Save Your Teeth
Regular exercise has been shown by recent studies to be beneficial in reducing inflammatory processes in the body. For this reason, inflammatory protein markers, such as C-reactive protein, have been used to assess risk of heart disease. Now, it has been suggested by new dental research that a regular regimen of exercise, which decreases inflammation in the body, is associated with decreased risk of gum disease. Hence, exercise may be the universally recognized factor that will promote both physical and dental health. Exercise can indeed lower your risk of periodontal (gum) disease that is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.
Gum disease is an inflammatory process that is triggered by the presence of higher than normal numbers of periodontal pathogens (bacteria that cause gum disease.) This inflammatory process leads to the migration of certain bone-destroying cells (osteoclasts and polymorphocytes, e.g.) to the support structures of the teeth. Over time, bone loss around the roots of the teeth leads to spaces around the roots, called "pockets." Deepening of the pockets can eventually lead to loss of teeth. Periodontitis (gum disease) is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
It is not generally known that infected gum tissue has as much surface area as that of the skin of the forehead. You can imagine why a person would feel better when gum disease is treated. It has been my experience that patients will often report a dramatic change in their physical well-being after undergoing a program of root planing. They report sleeping better, feeling generally better and more energetic. Obviously, removing a major source of infection and inflammation in the body unburdens the immune system and results in all-around improvement Therefore, if you have signs of gum disease, such as painless swelling and bleeding of the gum, see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment. You will be glad you did.
To prevent gum disease, you should brush and floss at least two to three times per day, and see your dentist every six months. You should also engage in an exercise regimen approved by your physician. Remember, when your body is healthy, your teeth are more likely to be healthy. When your teeth and gums become healthier, your body will also.