On a daily basis, people turn to food for sustenance and nourishment. The human body depends on food to be able to load up on necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to stay healthy. However, every time a person opens his or her mouth to take in food and drink or even speak, it also exposes the gums to a serious risk. This is especially true if one is not conscious about gum health.
The problem with this is that any bacteria that can affect the gums can also cause problems for the rest of the body. At the same time, any type of gum disease can also end up compromising the body’s ability to respond to stress and possibly cause adrenal fatigue.
How Gum Disease Can Compromise Your Body’s Stress Response
Gum disease typically occurs as a result of one’s poor flossing and brushing habits. Because of this, a sticky film of bacteria known as plaque tends to build up on the teeth and harden. As the problem continues to persist, it can lead to sore and bleeding gums. Aside from this, a person with advanced periodontal disease may also experience pain while chewing. And even worse, suffering from gum disease may eventually result in tooth loss. Unfortunately, gum disease does not only severely compromise gum health. Instead, it can also affect the body’s ability to respond efficiently to stress.
Typically, the body responds to stress by way of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. This stress response system is comprised of six organ or system circuits, one of which is the detoxification circuit.
The detoxification circuit is made up of the liver, immune system, and extracellular matrix. Typically, these work together to rid the body of any unwanted or excessive reactive metabolites as a result of stress. However, when the function of the liver is compromised, it is not able to rid the body of reactive metabolites faster than it is accumulating. This causes a buildup of toxins in the body, which can possibly trigger internal stress. Unfortunately, this can readily occur if a person chooses to ignore his or her gum health altogether.
Today, there is a consensus that one’s gum health can significantly affect the body’s ability to detoxify itself efficiently. In fact, the link that has been made between periodontal disease and liver problems is most alarming.
According to a study conducted by the Liver Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Center of PLA in China, there has been an increasing amount of evidence that indicates that periodontitis is a contributing factor to the progression of several liver diseases including cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma.
At the same time, a study conducted by the University of Copenhagen and the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark also found that among patients who are suffering from cirrhosis, 39 percent had moderate periodontitis while 46 percent had severe periodontitis. Similarly, a study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology in 1981 also found that patients who had been suffering from liver cirrhosis for more than three years had greater plaque, tooth loss, and retentive calculus than the patients who had only been suffering from liver cirrhosis for less than three years.
Meanwhile, gum disease can also possibly compromise the body’s NEM stress response system by affecting one’s immune function. Typically, periodontal disease is also characterized by inflammation in the gums which can lead to collagen degradation. Collagen is the key foundational building block of healthy gums, with key components being vitamin C, lysine, and proline. Stress and gum disease both lead to increase in vitamin C utilization, resulting in reduced vitamin C supply in the body. Because humans cannot make vitamin C internally, it has to be supplemented. Proper supplementation of vitamin C in various forms not only helps the body deal with stress but can significantly enhance gum health.
If this inflammation from diseased gums is allowed to persist and become chronic inflammation, it eventually affects cortisol’s ability to regulate the body’s very own inflammatory response. At the same time, the body’s immune cells are also unable to regulate inflammation as they are now compromised. As a result, the body’s immune system begins to decline. As this happens, the person begins to feel substantially weaker and becomes more susceptible to diseases.
A study conducted by the Om Dental Clinic and the M.R. Ambedkar Dental College and Hospital in India found that bacteria found in dental plaque can possibly induce antibody formation. This is why experts believe there is a significant association between periodontal disease and autoimmune disorders.
Gum Disease and Adrenal Fatigue
Gum problems such as receding gums is a clear sign that one is already suffering from adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, this is also an indication that the infection in the body is prevalent.
The moment the body is suffering from the late stages of adrenal fatigue, the body ends up entering a catabolic state. That is, it would begin to break down its own tissues in order to be able to provide critical nutrition in support of several body functions. Those that would be broken down to provide metabolic support to vital functions include the cartilage, muscle, fat, and collagen. As a result, you may find that your gums are suddenly receding significantly.
Meanwhile, these receding gums are also typically inflamed. This inflammation poses bigger problems for the adrenal gland as it is forced to work even harder just to fight off the inflammation or infection.
To combat this, the adrenal gland typically produces anti-inflammatory hormones. One of this is the primary stress hormone cortisol. As cortisol does its work, however, it also ends up causing a breakdown of collagen support, which is critical in helping the body maintain healthy gum tissue.
Meanwhile, as the adrenal gland is forced to continue producing more and more cortisol, it reaches a point where it can no longer meet the body’s demand. As a result, the body ends up suffering from significant hormonal imbalance. This, in turn, triggers Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
How to Promote Better Gum Health and Avoid Adrenal Fatigue
As you can see, not taking care of your teeth and gums can pose some serious consequences to your overall health. This is especially true for your body’s NEM stress response system and your adrenal glands.
To make sure that your health does not become compromised by your gums, it is best to make an extra effort to keep your gums as clean and healthy as possible. Here are some easy ways that you can do just that:
Limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods
Research shows a concerning link between periodontal disease and high blood sugar levels. In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 found that adults who consumed sugary foods tend to have a 73 percent higher risk of developing periodontal disease.
At the same time, when you consume foods that are high in sugar, you also end up forcing your adrenal glands to work even harder. This is because the adrenals would have to produce more cortisol to regulate the additional sugar.
Avoid smoking and don’t chew tobacco
Whenever you smoke or chew tobacco, you essentially weaken your immune system. This would make it much harder to fight off any bacterial infection around your gums. A study conducted by the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire has also found that cigarette smoking can cause a general disturbance in one’s adrenal cortical hormone levels.
Make regular visits to your dentist
Oral health is crucial to ensuring the rest of your body stays healthy. The best way to make sure that you are always in good oral health is by making regular visits to your dentist.
At least twice a year, your teeth need to be cleaned professionally to make sure that all the tartar in your teeth is removed. This way, there is also a lower risk for your body to suffer from chronic inflammation which can compromise your immune function and even trigger adrenal fatigue.
Foods and Drinks that Promote Better Gum Health
Now that you know how to take better care of your gums in order to avoid gum disease and adrenal fatigue, it’s time to discover the type of foods and drinks that you can take to support better gum health.
Before you try anything new though, it is highly recommended that you consult with your physician first. This is because you may have an allergy or intolerance for certain foods or beverages, and consuming them may lead to severe symptoms such as wheezing, nasal congestion, itching in the mouth, dizziness, abdominal pain, and even fainting.
That said, here are a number of healthy foods and drinks that readily enhance and promote gum health:
Because green tea is rich in antioxidants, it can help fight off inflammation caused by periodontal disease. In fact, green tea contains a specific type of antioxidant known as catechins. According to a study conducted by the Nihon University School of Dentistry at Matsudo, Japan, green tea catechins are effective in reducing acid production activity from dental plaque. Green tea is also known to have soothing properties. Hence, sipping some daily could help reduce one’s stress and anxiety levels.
Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, which is exactly what your body needs to be able to fight off bacteria from dental plaque more effectively. At the same time, yogurt is a rich source of calcium which would help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
When taking yogurt, it is much healthier to opt for the plain, unsweetened variety. If you want to give it some more flavor, you can always mix in some fresh berries as well as roasted nuts and seeds.
According to a study conducted by Qassim University in Saudi Arabia and Suez Canal University in Egypt, there are certain active ingredients present in ginger that can help prevent and treat certain diseases. These therapeutic ingredients include oleoresin, terpenes, gingerol, lipophilic rhizome extracts, and shogaol. Another study conducted by the Federal University Wukari in Nigeria has also found that ginger extracts contain antibacterial properties which can be used for treating bacterial infections.
Believe it or not, onions contain antimicrobial properties that can help effectively fight off bacteria in your mouth. In fact, a study conducted by Umm Al-Qura University in Saudi Arabia found that onion possesses inhibitory effects when it comes to the growth of bacteria.
Oily Fish or Fish Oil
Oily fish such as mackerel and salmon are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, one study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that fish oil is a safe and effective treatment for inflammation.
Feel free to incorporate these foods and drinks into your daily diet. These can help ensure that your gums are always protected from harmful diseases that can also trigger adrenal fatigue in the body. At the same time, when you have better gum health, you can also be assured that your smile is as beautiful and healthy as ever.
© Copyright 2015-2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Why is gum health important in preventing adrenal fatigue?
Maintaining good gum health is critical to preventing adrenal fatigue because gum bacteria can seriously compromise one’s NEM stress response system and eventually cause adrenal fatigue. Periodontal disease causes chronic inflammation which leads to a dysfunction in the NEM stress response circuits and eventually, hormonal imbalance.