The mouth is home to many types of bacteria. Normally, the organisms in the mouth are harmless to an individual. At some point in a person’s life, nearly every type of microorganism has probably found a home in the warm moist area of his or her mouth. Microbes in the mouth can cause illness in some people, when conditions are right, which is why it is important for all individuals to have good oral hygiene habits.
Every time we swallow, we ingest bacteria. It is common for harmless bacteria to find their way into the blood stream. Bacteria in the blood don’t normally cause any problems because the white blood cells of the immune system destroy them. However, if a person is unwell, is very young, or elderly, he or she could be at risk of getting sepsis. Sepsis can quickly advance to septic shock. The following paragraphs will briefly describe bacteremia, septicemia, sepsis and septic shock.
The bacteria are there, but they are not multiplying and causing infection. When bacteria enter the blood stream, it is called bacteremia. If your immune system is working properly, the bacteria will be killed off and you won’t get sick. When pathogenic microbes begin multiplying in your blood stream, this is known as septicemia.
Septicemia and sepsis
Septicemia can occur in a person who has a suppressed immune system. This is a medical state that can quickly lead to sepsis. Sepsis is characterized by the spread of microbes from the blood to the lungs, skin, kidneys and other organs of the body. Sepsis sets up a systemic inflammatory response, known as SIRS, in the body. This medical state is one that is commonly called “blood poisoning.”
Sepsis can get worse; severe sepsis leads to organ failure. This medical state is known as septic shock. In septic shock, the blood pressure falls into hypotension, which causes hypo perfusion. Hypoperfusion is a state in which there is insufficient blood flow to the organs, which leads to organ failure. The person with septic shock will stop putting out urine, because the kidneys can’t work without blood flow.
Oral hygiene and periodontal disease as it relates to sepsis
It is important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent periodontal disease. Research has shown that periodontal diseases can be linked to chronic inflammatory conditions within the body. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can invade any part of the body through inflamed periodontal tissues.
Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent periodontal disease, thereby eliminating the pain and discomfort from chronic inflammatory conditions of the mouth that can lead to sepsis. Daily brushing and flossing, and getting regular dental checkups can do more than give you a pretty smile; it can save your life.
Signs of good oral hygiene are when your teeth are clean of any debris. The gums are pink and do not bleed; your breath should not be a constant problem. We maintain good oral hygiene by brushing our teeth at least twice a day or after every meal. Floss your teeth once every day. It’s a good thing to watch your diet too. Limit concentrated sweets, and drink plenty of water. If possible, rinse your mouth out after eating, when you can’t brush.
It would be advisable to brush after every time you eat. That’s not always possible, but you can buy little disposable tooth brushes that you can carry with you. If you are out to a restaurant, you can excuse yourself and brush. We are responsible for our own oral health. It is up to us to assist our children with oral hygiene, when necessary, and teach them good hygiene practices. Maintenance of the oral hygiene should a joint effort between you and your dentist. Visit the dentist regularly to keep a healthy mouth and prevent infections that could lead to serious illness.