You’ve been told since you were young that brushing and flossing your teeth is important. However, good oral hygiene isn’t just about keeping your mouth healthy. There’s a clear link between the health of your gums and teeth and more serious health problems.
Health Conditions Associated with Oral Health
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the biggest contributor to larger health concerns. It can cause excess inflammation and bacteria growth that can weaken the immune system and make you sick. Additionally, research from Delta Dental shows that 90 percent of all systemic diseases (those that involve multiple organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations. This might include inflamed gums, dry mouth, mouth ulcers, and excessive saliva.
There’s a strong connection between oral health and overall health, thanks to the huge amounts of bacteria in your mouth. When you eat, drink, and breathe, you plant bacteria all over your gums and teeth. Brushing, flossing, and saliva keep things under control, but improper oral hygiene can lead to infections, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Some health problems are more concerning than others. Here’s a list you should know about:
Gum disease can damage the heart if not treated properly. Bacteria from this infection can enter your bloodstream and end up in the heart. It can also cause plaque buildup in your bloodstream, which can cause a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke. The same can be said for tooth decay that’s left unattended for too long.
When diagnosing diabetes, doctors will often look in your mouth for sores and inflammation that indicate the body’s inability to control blood sugars. If this inflammation is not treated properly, diabetic treatment is very difficult. If left untreated, gum disease in diabetics can be deadly. Diabetics are more susceptible to developing gum disease, making proper oral hygiene that much more important.
The same bacteria from gum disease can also impact the brain. It can kill brain cells and enter nerve channels. Once it’s entered the bloodstream, it’s hard to stop its destructive path, and patients are more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as a result.
The connection between oral hygiene and healthy lungs is not always easy to diagnose until it has set in. However, studies show that as bacteria builds up in the mouth from an infection or poor oral hygiene, the patient can breathe the bacteria into their lungs. This can lead to dangerous infections including bronchitis and pneumonia.
Severe gum disease has also been linked as a dangerous source of premature births. Pregnant women with inflammation and bacteria in their mouths causes a release of toxins which reach the placenta in the mother’s bloodstream. This causes distress for the baby, and triggers premature labor. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research suspects that as much as 18 percent of premature births in the United States are the result of oral infections.
A Holistic Look on Healthcare
Healthcare providers today are aiming for a holistic view on healthcare. They’re working on combining all of the information from different healthcare specialties to provide healthcare for the whole body.
A huge part of that is recognizing how symptoms from one condition can impact other health concerns. Dentists and orthodontists are tasked with more than just cleaning teeth and filling cavities. They’re also encouraged to look for more serious conditions based on oral manifestations, illnesses, or gum disease that’s been untreated.
The same is said when you visit the doctor. It’s important for healthcare providers to take your oral health into consideration when looking at everything else.
Oral Hygiene Is Essential to Health
Ladies, brushing your teeth is not just about eliminating bad breath and whitening your smile. It’s quintessential to good health. Even small lapses in oral hygiene can open your mouth to bacteria growth and potential negative health effects. It’s important to brush and floss twice a day, and see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.