You know that not looking after your teeth properly can lead to tooth decay, but did you know poor dental care could affect your heart? We don't want to scare you, but we're here to let you know the crucial role your teeth play in your overall health.
Your mouth is the gateway to your whole body, so it makes sense that your health can be intricately tied to your oral hygiene. As research around dental care and general well-being expands, more and more studies are starting to show clear associations between the state of your teeth and gums and the rest of your body.
Here are some of the health conditions that could be connected to poor oral hygiene.
Problems such as heart disease and clogged arteries could be linked to dental health issues.
1. Cardiovascular disease
There is research to suggest that problems such as heart disease and clogged arteries could be linked to dental health issues. In one study, the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely to die from heart attacks when they surveyed over 1,000 medical records.
Inflammation and infections such as periodontitits may introduce bacteria into your bloodstream, where they can then travel to your heart. This could lead to the thickening and hardening of the arteries, causing problems with blood flow around your body, which in turn raises your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, poor dental health has also been identified as a risk factor for endocarditis, a rare heart condition where the lining of your heart becomes infected after bacteria from your mouth spreads through your body.
However, while the American Dental Academy has acknowledged that there is a definite link between periodontal disease and heart problems, they also state that the exact connection is unclear. Heart health isn't something you should treat lightly though so taking good care of your mouth should still be a priority.
2. Respiratory diseases
Research published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that bad bacteria present in your mouth when you have oral infections could increase your risk of getting lung diseases such as pneumonia, or worsen any conditions you already have.
Patients who were hospitalised with respiratory diseases were found to have worse dental health than the patients in a control group who had no history of lung problems. This led researchers to suggest that oral pathogens could accumulate in your throat and be inhaled into the lungs, resulting in pulmonary issues. Your dentist may be able to help stop the progression or development of such diseases, so never skip your appointments!
As with cardiovascular disease, the study notes that the link between dental and respiratory health is not fully understood and more research is required to fully comprehend the implications of oral health on your lungs.
Diabetes is one of the clearest examples of a correlation between your teeth and general health. People who suffer from diabetes have problems processing sugar. Having inflammation in your mouth from gum disease can worsen the situation because it can interfere with your body's ability to use insulin, the hormone that controls sugar.
Diabetes can in turn impact your oral health. High blood sugar can make you more prone to developing mouth infections, while high glucose levels in your saliva can give bad bacteria a boost, speeding up tooth decay.
Managing your dental hygiene could help bring diabetes under control though, and vice versa. If you suffer from diabetes, make sure you take extra precautions with your oral care.
4. Premature birth
Poor dental health and accompanying periodontal disease is associated with pregnancy complications such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia and even miscarriages, the New Zealand College of Midwives warns. Oral health guidelines laid out by the college stress the importance of proper dental care and regular check ups during pregnancy.
Pregnant women need to pay extra attention to their oral health as pregnancy hormones could exacerbate gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis and other complications. Luckily, gum disease can be kept under control with regular brushing and flossing.
Protecting your health
As you can see, taking proper care of your oral health is about more than just your teeth – it's important for your overall well-being. Proper hygiene habits could help keep you live a healthier life so remember to brush, floss, use mouthwash daily and pop in to your dentist for regular dental check ups.
If you haven't been in to see us for a while, make an appointment online today and we'll make sure your teeth are in top condition!