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8 Health Effects of Poor Oral Hygiene On Your Overall Health

We’re told all of our lives to “brush and floss” and to take care of our teeth if we want to keep them forever, but it’s only recently that we’re beginning to understand just how important caring for our teeth actually is. Doctors and dentists alike are starting to view the mouth as the “gateway to the body,” as bacteria from the teeth and gums can negatively affect your overall health in more ways than one. In fact, here are 8 KNOWN links between oral and overall health that you might want to consider next time you think about skipping brushing, flossing or your next dental appointment:

1.    Heart Disease/Stroke:

The link between heart disease/stroke and poor oral health is one of the strongest links dental researchers have pinpointed to date. According to numerous studies, people with periodontal disease are two times more likely to develop heart disease and arterial narrowing than those without. This is a result of bacteria and plaque entering the blood stream through the gums. The particular bacteria responsible for periodontal disease contain a clot-promoting protein that can clog arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart attack. In addition, if high levels of these bacteria clog the carotid artery – the blood vessel that delivers blood to the brain and head – it could increase your risk for stroke.

2.    Increased Risk for Dementia:

According to a study published in Behavioral and Brain Functions, individuals who experience tooth loss have a higher risk for memory loss and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. This is because the infections in the gums that result in tooth loss release inflammatory substances, which in turn increase brain inflammation, which can then result in brain cell death.

3.    Respiratory Problems:

The bacteria from gum disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it can aggravate respiratory systems. One study published in the journal of Periodontology revealed a link between gum disease and acute bronchitis. The link is especially strong in individuals with existing respiratory problems.

4.    Diabetes:

This is a two-way street. Periodontal disease can aggravate diabetes, and diabetes can aggravate periodontal disease. In fact, people who suffer from diabetes are known to contract other diseases much more easily than their non-diabetic counterparts. That being said, 95% of US adults who suffer from diabetes also suffer from periodontal disease, and one-third have such advanced cases that they’ve experienced tooth loss. This is likely because in addition to having a higher risk of gum disease due to diabetes, periodontal disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar, putting the patient at increased risk for even more diabetes-related complications.

5.    Erectile Dysfunction:

The bacteria found in periodontal disease can travel through the blood stream, enflaming blood vessels and blocking flow to the genitals. While not a common occurrence, men with periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to experience this blockage—or, erectile dysfunction—than their mouth-healthy counterparts.

6.    Risk of Premature Birth:

In the U.S., nearly 13% of babies are born prematurely. Preterm birth sets babies up for a host of medical problems throughout their lives, including breathing issues and chronic infections. Expectant mothers need to be especially careful about taking care of their teeth and gums, as one of the main causes of premature birth is infection in the body. And one of the most common sites for infection is the mouth.

7.    Other Infertility Problems:

Attention women trying to conceive: one recent study found that gum disease might be linked to increased difficulty conceiving. In the study, women with gum disease were compared to those without. What they found was that those with gum disease took seven months to conceive, an average of two months longer than their mouth-healthy counterparts, who conceived in an average of five months.

8.    Cancer:

Shockingly, men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers than all other individuals without periodontal disease.

As you’ve gathered by now, how you care for your gums and teeth is of a much greater consequence than we originally thought. Because of the dire health risks poor oral health poses to our overall health, we’re hoping our patients will start to take their oral health as seriously as we do, and not let dental issues get bad enough to where they’re threatening their health or well being.

Moreover, we want our patients to WANT to take care of their teeth, for both health and aesthetic reasons. A great smile is just as important as great health, so take care of both, and maintain a regular oral hygiene routine. Trust us – your mouth and your body will thank you!

Visit http://www.lakeshorefamilydentist.com/blog.html for tips and tricks on how to best maintain your smile, or if you’re ready to start living a healthier lifestyle, contact us directly at 651-429-3348 today!

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