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Brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly is not only great for your teeth and mouth, but also for your body and overall health.
Scientists have identified a link between poor oral hygiene and other health problems, but they can’t establish the cause and effect just yet. All we know is that bacteria and inflammation are linked to dementia, diabetes, heart disease, and other problems.
What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease or gum disease is the name for a broad range of oral health problems, and many people have gum diseases without even realizing it. Swollen gums, painful gums, persistent bad breath, and sensitive teeth are just a few common signs of gum disease.
Some diseases like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) are easy to cure, but others, like periodontitis, can affect your body in a number of ways.
Gum diseases can destroy your mouth, but not just that. Since your mouth is a portal to the rest of your body, they can cause problems elsewhere in your body.
For heart conditions, like endocarditis, the link between oral health and overall health is well established. Endocarditis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the heart valve and it most commonly caused by bacteria (and you do have bacteria in your mouth). The more bacteria you have in your body, the more your overall health will be affected.
Some research even suggests that the more (bad) bacteria you have because of gum disease, the thicker your carotid arteries might be, and that’s never a good thing. If your arteries are too thick, the blood won’t be able to get to the brain, which can cause a stroke.
If you have poor oral hygiene, brushing your teeth can actually do more harm than good – you can tear the oral tissue and allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. However, this does not mean that you should stop brushing your teeth completely. Don’t stop cleaning them as an excuse to protect your heart, but rather visit your dentist to see what you can do in order to make your mouth healthy again.
If you have diabetes, you already know that this disease might harm your eyes, heart, kidneys and other systems in your body. Did you know that diabetes also affects your mouth? The truth is, people with diabetes have a much higher risk of periodontal diseases.
Inflammation that starts in your mouth can seriously weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar, and you should know that periodontitis and diabetes have a strong, two-way working relationship.
High blood sugar allows infection to grow, but you can use the connection between those two things in your favor. Managing diabetes will bring periodontitis under control and vice-versa. People with diabetes should have annual checkups in order to reduce the risk of gum disease and dental decay.
Not smoking is probably one of the most important things that you can do for your mouth and your body. If you’re a smoker, you have a much bigger chance of getting gum disease. Smoking, or rather nicotine, causes the blood vessels in your mouth to constrict, and this can seriously interfere with your body’s ability to fight infection in the mouth.
Smoking also interferes with the treatment of gum disease. Surgeries tend to be much more complicated if you’re a smoker, and the recovery process is usually much longer.
When you eat sugary foods and drink sugary beverages plaque forms on your teeth. The plaque is sticky, and it keeps the acids in constant contact with your teeth which leads to tooth decay.
Plaque buildup can lead to numerous problems, but the most important one is gingivitis. This disease will make your gums bleed, and bleeding is never a good sign. You can prevent the accumulation of plaque and gingivitis by brushing your teeth several times a day, and visiting your dentist regularly.
Crooked or crowded teeth can cause you a lot of problems because they’re not easy to maintain. If your teeth are not straight, there’s a big chance that you’re not able to clean your teeth properly, even if you’re flossing regularly.
Fortunately, braces are not just for children, and adult orthodontics is nothing new. By straightening your teeth you’ll prevent the buildup of plaque and you’ll clean your mouth easier than ever before.
How to protect your oral health?
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
- Floss after every meal
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or when bristles become frayed
- Eat healthy food and limit snacks
- Avoid tobacco
- Schedule regular check-ups with your dentist
When your dentist is asking about your oral hygiene and eating habits, he’s not being nosy. He needs to know if you have a family history of bad teeth, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other things. He will also want to know what medications you’re using, so don’t try to hide any information. That information is important, and it might help your dental hygienist to decrease the risk of gum disease and all other diseases connected with mouth health.