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Eye Spy: Exploring the mouth-eye connection
A healthy mouth is critical to overall health and wellness. Emerging research suggests that infection and inflamation may travel between the mouth and the eye. Could a healthy mouth lead to healthier eyes?
The eye, just like the mouth, skin and gut has a unique and individualized microbiome- (microbiome is the collection of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and their genes that naturally live on our bodies and inside us). With an infectious pathway, bacteria travel from the oral cavity and metastasize to the eye. Factors that influence the makeup of the eye microbiome include ethnicity, geographic region, age, contact use and oral and intestinal health.
Harmful pathogens can enter the bloodstream and lymphatic system and travel throughout the body to the eye. Eye diseases are more likely to emerge when the microbiome is out of balance. Some examples of eye diseases include dry eye syndrome, keratitis, blepharitis, and conjunctivitis. One study in 2017, concluded that poor oral health, an altered microbiome and the number of missing teeth all could be risk factors for damage to the optic nerve. Untreated periodontal disease and tooth decay, failing dental restorations that harbor bacteria, and abscesses may contribute to infection of the tissues around the eye. This can be a dangerous condition when infections travel from the oral cavity into the sinus and migrate to the brain via the optic nerve.
Oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, which can create systemic inflammation. Harmful oral pathogens have been linked to many conditions including diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and many more. An altered oral microbiome may not only affect the teeth and gums but also vision and eye health.
~RDH Magazine- April 2022 [-10179][-8968] Zane Lindsay