Most people are unaware of the connection between their dental health and overall health. But research definitely shows that your oral health has a significant impact on your whole body health. By taking care of your teeth and gums, you not only get a beautiful smile, but you enhance the health of your entire body. But if you are not practicing proper oral care, you could be setting the stage for serious health problems down the road.
Whole Body Health
As unpleasant as it may be to think about, your mouth is actually teeming with bacteria of all kinds. Most bacteria are completely harmless. By brushing and flossing daily, you are ensuring that the bacterial load in your mouth remains low. If you are neglecting your oral care, problems can develop.
The bacteria in your mouth begin multiplying and attacking your tooth enamel. The acids found in plaque can lead to gum disease and periodontitis. And bacteria don’t always “stay put.” Once they gain entry into your bloodstream, they can spread throughout the body and even cause problems with your heart.
By neglecting your oral health, plaque eventually accumulates on your teeth, which raises your odds of having a heart attack or stroke. Arteries can be blocked by cholesterol, but other things can also block them. An American Heart Foundation study revealed that bacteria found in plaque contributes to blocked arteries, heart attack and stroke.
A study published recently in the Journal Hypertension found that periodontal disease seems to increase blood pressure and may also interfere with medicines that treat hypertension.
One of the authors of the study stated that gum disease represents a kind of continual inflammation, which is one of the main predictors of heart disease.
Bacteria can also accumulate in the mouth, attacking teeth and gums, resulting in gingivitis. In turn, gingivitis causes bleeding gums. At that point, bacteria can move into blood vessels and travel to distant parts of the body. If bacteria reaches the heart, it can cause a heart condition known as endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart chambers or valves.
Diabetes can be complicated by the presence of gum disease. Gum disease can cause the gums to recede from the teeth, forming gaps. These gaps can easily become infected. Diabetics are unable to properly absorb insulin to lower their blood sugar levels. High blood sugar also feeds bacteria in the mouth, leading to even more inflammation – a vicious cycle.
Gum Disease Affects Pregnancy
Gum disease can have a negative impact on pregnant women. It can cause existing dental problems to become worse. Gum disease can even cause babies to be born prematurely or have a low birth weight.
The Bottom Line
The takeaway here is that maintaining the health of your teeth and gums is vitally important for whole body health. Every part of the body is connected in some way to every other part. So be sure to keep up with your regular brushing and flossing at home, as well as staying on track with your routine dental exam and cleaning appointments.