We all know that poor oral hygiene can cause cavities and rotting teeth, but did you know it could affect other parts of your body as well? You oral health is more important than you may realize, and poor oral hygiene could result in serious consequences.
How can this be? Before we get into how the mouth can affect the rest of the body, we need to understand how things can go haywire within the mouth. You mouth is filled with bacteria, which is normally under control with consistent proper oral care. However, if the bacteria build up too much, then the mouth becomes infected, which can lead to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. This will continue to worsen until the infection and inflammation is brought under control.
There are several conditions that could be linked to oral health:
- Diabetes: Inflammation in your mouth cause by poor oral health is correlated with your ability to control blood sugar, which can make your symptoms for diabetes worse. This relationship doesn’t just go one way either. On the flip side, people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease because the high blood sugar makes it easier for infections to develop. On the bright side, managing one of these diseases will help to bring the other one under control.
- Cardiovascular disease/endocarditis/heart disease: Cardiovascular disease and heart disease are linked to infections in the mouth. Bacteria from your inflamed gums can travel through the bloodstream to your heart’s arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Another cause for the linkage between cardiovascular disease and poor oral health is that they have many of the same risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, and poor diet.
- Osteoporosis: The linkage between osteoporosis and periodontal disease is that both cause the loss of bone mass.Because periodontal disease only affects the bones in the mouth and osteoporosis mainly affects longer bones, this linkage is somewhat controversial. However, some studies have shown that over half of women with osteoporosis also have gum disease.
As you’ve seen, oral health goes beyond your mouth. In addition to the diseases outlined above, poor oral hygiene can also affect Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, and respiratory conditions. The best way to ensure your health is to care for both your oral health and your overall health. We recommend brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, and visiting your dentist once every six months. Also be sure to consult your dentist or physician if you notice changes in your oral or overall health. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us today!