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Can Better Oral Health Offer Protection Against the Flu?

Coos Bay family dentist

If you’ve been feeling a little under the weather this winter, your Coos Bay family dentist wants you to know that you’re not alone. People all across the U.S. have found themselves suffering from the sniffles and sneezing as the country has been hit hard by what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified as the most severe flu season since 2009. To lower your risk of catching a nasty case of the flu this winter, health care practitioners like Dr. Lori Lemire want to stress the need to take preventative measures.

One of the best and most effective means of preventing a bout of the flu is to get vaccinated against the virus. Despite some concerns from consumers that this year’s flu vaccine isn’t effective enough, it still offers the best level of protection possible.

However, based on the research of an Australian dentist, there may be something else you can do to help protect against getting the flu – brush and floss more often.  In his research, Dr. Steven Lin notes the connection between oral health and the body’s immune system suggests that practicing improved oral hygiene could potential help patients fight of the flu.

Healthier Mouth = a Stronger Immune System

The body uses signaling and hormones to direct the actions of stem cells in everything from how cells are managed to the formation of bones. In fact, the immune system uses the very same signals as the body does when promoting better bone health.

So what does this mean?

Well, vitamin D, for example, is widely known for helping to promote better bone health. However, because the signals in the body that control the development of calcium and bone deposits in the body are the same ones the help to regulate the immune system, vitamin D also plays an important role in directing immune cell function.

Based on this connection, Dr. Linn recommends that patients check their vitamin D levels as the seasons change. Patients experiencing lower rates of the vitamin or who are currently suffering from tooth decay could have an increased susceptibility to immunological infections. This theory was reinforced by a 2017 study that found that prenatal vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women during their second and third trimesters could have an impact on the pre-born child’s immune system.

The 2017 study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, conducted by researchers in the UK, that found prenatal vitamin D exposure eventually improved newborns’ broad-spectrum proinflammatory cytokine response. The result of the study was that infants were born with boosted immune systems that helped protect them from developing asthma or infectious diseases early in life.

Protecting Your Oral & Overall Health

Your Coos Bay family dentist too frequently hears patients make the mistake that their oral health is separate from their overall health. In truth, our bodies maintain a holistic connection where each individual component of our health adds to the greater picture as a whole.

Improving your oral hygiene means eliminating oral bacteria that directly contributes to a variety of health issues. It’s not surprising then that research suggests that a healthier mouth can act as a barrier against disease. Just as making sure to wash your hands during cold and flu season can help prevent the onset of an illness, so too can ensuring your mouth stays health and germ free.

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