If the eyes are the gateways to the soul, then perhaps we can say that sometimes the mouth is the gateway to the body.
Of course, it is the orifice through which we ingest healthy and pleasurable/tasty food, but the care of it is also important to our entire well-being.
We have often discussed how brushing our teeth and cleaning our tongues daily are important steps for the control of some bacteria that are deleterious to our health, but recently scientists have discovered that neglecting oral hygiene appears to exacerbate the effects of Lupus.
What is Lupus, anyway?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including, but not limited to, the skin, joints, and/or organs. “Chronic” means that the signs and symptoms of the disease generally last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune systems produce proteins called “antibodies” which protect the body from these invaders.
“Autoimmunity” means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues so the body creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
What does that have to do with oral hygiene?
While scientists are not saying that gum disease and oral deterioration cause Lupus, they have found that untreated oral problems can contribute to the disease.
Additionally, many Lupus sufferers have to take multiple medications to control their symptoms, and some of these may contain toxins which, if not removed from the mouth with careful hygiene, can exacerbate the condition.
Cavities, oral abscesses and bacterial buildups worsen the effect of Lupus, as well, so strict and careful attention to tooth decay, missing teeth and gum disease is warranted and recommended. In addition, since Lupus causes pain, the additional pain associated with oral decay compounds the problem.
Therefore, if any of our readers do suffer from Lupus, please take note of these new findings and be sure to pay particular attention to your oral hygiene, including regular visits to your dentist and/or periodontist to try to avoid additional discomfort from this already difficult and often debilitating and painful condition.