Your dentist urges you to take care of your teeth and gums at every check-up; it’s easy to make promises and head home without a second thought! But your dentist is right: It’s imperative to maintain good oral health, and for way more reasons than you’d expect.
Your mouth provides access to the rest of your body. Bacteria from your teeth and gums can quickly enter your bloodstream, causing infections and having a dramatic impact on your overall health.
Some Hype for Oral Hygiene
Why should we concern ourselves with dental hygiene? Well, for starters, poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay and cavities. If dental plaque is not consistently removed, it can build up on your tooth enamel, producing bacteria, decay, and causing cavities.
If you’re a social butterfly, bad dental health can put a real damper on party planning. Without proper oral hygiene, small food particles between the teeth collect bacteria and emit chemicals like hydrogen sulphide, resulting in halitosis (bad breath).
Practicing good oral hygiene can help eliminate the pain and inconvenience of poor dental health. And adding to the importance of oral hygiene: oral health can be an indicator of your body’s overall health.
10 Health Issues Connected to Oral Health
Your teeth are not the only parts of the body affected by dental health and oral hygiene habits. Unchecked bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body, causing a myriad of health problems, like:
- Gum Disease
Okay, this one may be obvious, but gum disease results from poor oral health. Infections occur when plaque builds up along and under the gums. Periodontal disease is a severe form of gum disease, leading to bone deterioration and tooth loss.
- Heart Disease and Stroke
Patients with periodontal disease are at risk of bacteria and plaque entering the bloodstream through the gums, leading to higher chances of developing heart disease and narrowing arteries.
Bacteria and plaque can harden and clog arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to blood flow issues and heart blockages. If high levels of bacteria from the mouth block the carotid artery, it can increase the patient’s risk of stroke.
- Respiratory Illnesses
Bacteria and plaque from periodontal disease can travel through the body and into the lungs, aggravating the respiratory system. Bacteria in the lungs leads to infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Patients with diabetes are often more susceptible to infections, and more vulnerable to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can make blood sugar levels more difficult to control, leaving the patient at risk of complications from diabetes.
At the same time, gum disease also leads to elevated blood sugar levels, so a person with poor oral health has a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Experts have determined that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can result from periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Bacteria from the mouth can spread into the nerve channels or enter the bloodstream, resulting in brain cell death that leads to memory loss.
- Pregnancy Complications
Pregnancy results in various hormonal changes, making an expectant mother more susceptible to oral infections. Pregnancy complications can result from any infection in the body.
Periodontitis and gingivitis are linked to premature birth and low birth weight. It’s essential to practice good dental hygiene throughout pregnancy to avoid serious health issues for mom and baby.
If you smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products, you’re probably already aware of the oral health detriments associated with the habit. However, there are other types of cancers linked to gum disease besides oral and throat cancers.
Poor oral health can also lead to an elevated risk of pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and blood cancers.
- Kidney Disease
Patients with gum disease will typically have weaker immune systems, and are more susceptible to infection. Kidney disease can occur as a result of infection.
Chronic kidney disease is a health condition that affects many areas of the body, and it can be deadly if it leads to kidney failure or cardiovascular disease.
Bacteria from periodontitis and gingivitis can increase inflammation in the body, resulting in a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
There are various health issues linked to gum disease, and many of them can cause difficulties for someone looking to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Prevention is Key
You’ve read all the bad news, but isn’t it heartening that you can avoid serious health issues linked to bad oral health by practicing good oral hygiene?
Our team at West 85th Dental have put together a few hygiene tips to help you down the path to a healthier smile:
- Twice-a-day tooth and gum brushing: Sigh. This one may seem obvious, but brushing your teeth morning and night is highly beneficial to oral health.
- Do the floss: Flossing frantically before your check-up doesn’t count towards your oral health! Make sure you’re getting between each tooth daily.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products: We know this isn’t an easy task. Visit your family doctor for information and treatment.
- Come for a visit: We’re always happy to see you! Stick to your dentist’s recommended cleaning and check-up routine to keep your oral health in tiptop shape.
- Limit Sweets: Treats are great; we love them too! It’s okay to have a few, but definitely try to limit sugary foods that tend to stick on the teeth. We recommend rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth after indulging in something sweet.
Your Oral Health & Overall Health are Linked
Think of your mouth as a gateway to the rest of your body, and remember the link between oral health and overall health. Maintaining good dental hygiene can help lower your risk of other health issues, and we’re always here to help!
If you have questions about oral health, would like more information about health conditions related to gum disease, or would like to book an appointment, contact our incredible team at West 85th Dental. We can’t wait to hear from you.