7 ways oral health may affect your health

04.04.2018

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Brushing and flossing your teeth and gums helps them to stay healthy. It makes tooth decay, tooth pain and bad breath much less likely. And it allows us to maintain bright and happy smiles. But caring for your oral health also has some surprising health benefits beyond the confines of your mouth.

 

Here are seven ways oral health can affect your overall health:

 

Cardiovascular Conditions
Several studies have linked gum disease and inflammation with cardiovascular conditions. This means people with gum disease are more prone to heart disease and strokes. It’s thought that inflammation in the gums can lead to inflammation throughout the body, which makes a cardiovascular condition much more likely. In fact, according to the Canadian Academy of Periodontology, people with gum disease face twice as great a risk of having a fatal heart attack as those without.

 

Diabetes
It’s long been known that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease. But the relationship has now been proven the other way around too. Inflammation in the gums escapes into the bloodstream. This then disrupts the body’s natural defence system, which then limits effective blood sugar control.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis
As with diabetes, a link between poor oral hygiene and rheumatoid arthritis has long been observed. It was thought that painful hands and the drugs used to treat arthritis were to blame. Now, however, there’s evidence to suggest that the connection between the two conditions works both ways. Bacteria associated with gum disease may be making its way to the joints, where an autoimmune reaction leads the body to attack the joints.

 

Dementia
Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK have conducted research that suggests a link between gum disease and degenerative mental conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. The bacteria involved in gum disease can enter the bloodstream. When this bacteria reaches the brain, it’s thought to triggers an immune system response that can kill previously healthy brain cells.

 

Chronic Headaches

Bruxism (or teeth grinding) can cause a number of problems for your health. As well as chipping and damaging your teeth, grinding can cause chronic pain in your head, ears and jaw. Some people don’t realise that tooth grinding is the reason for their pain but, once diagnosed, a simple mouth guard can protect their teeth during episodes of night time grinding.

 

Lung Infections

Because the bacteria produced by gum disease can travel around the body, it’s especially easy for it to make its way into the lungs. Fine droplets containing the bacteria travel from the mouth into the lungs as we inhale. This bacteria can then make problems such as bronchitis, emphysema or pneumonia much more likely. It can also worsen existing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

 

Pregnancy Problems
When you’re pregnant, you’re advised to get regular check-ups with your dentist. This is because gum disease has been shown to compromise women and their unborn babies. Women with poor oral health are more likely to go into labour prematurely. They’re more likely to give birth to a low-weight baby and may be more likely to develop pre-eclampsia – a pregnancy condition that causes high blood pressure and can pose serious health risks for both mother and baby.

As you can see, good oral hygiene isn’t just good news for your mouth. It can help to prevent a variety of health conditions. Maintain a good brushing and flossing routine and attend regular dentist appointments. That way you will be able to prevent or recognise any oral health problems before they develop into something much worse.

 

 

Article last time updated on 05.04.2018.

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