For as long as you can remember, you’ve probably been told to brush and floss your teeth. Most people know that good oral hygiene is essential for preventing things like bad breath, tooth decay, cavities, and toothaches. But did you also know that oral hygiene is connected to your overall health?
In this article, we’ll explore several health problems that are related to poor oral hygiene, and provide some suggestions on how you can improve your personal dental care to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s valves or inner lining (known as the endocardium). Endocarditis can damage your heart and be very dangerous, and should be treated as soon as possible. It typically occurs when bacteria (or fungus) from another part of your body spreads through your bloodstream and attaches to your heart. Poor oral hygiene encourages bacteria growth and infection in your mouth, which can in turn be transferred from your mouth to the heart and cause endocarditis.
Poor oral hygiene can increase risk of Cardiovascular disease, more commonly referred to as heart disease. Like with Endocarditis, the bacteria from inflamed gums and periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream. It can then travel to the arteries in the heart and cause them to harden. This can then decrease or even block blood flow to the rest of the body, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Not only can bacteria from your mouth enter your heart, it can also enter your brain. The bacteria from gingivitis, for instance, can enter the brain through nerve channels or the bloodstream. A report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry showed that adults with gingivitis performed worse on tests of memory and cognitive skills than did those with better oral hygiene. But it can go even further as there are links between gingivitis and dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Both gum disease and diabetes affect each other negatively. Inflamed gums and periodontal disease make it more difficult for your body to control your blood sugar. Diabetes, in turn, reduces the body’s resistance to infection and puts the gums at greater risk for periodontal disease. Because of this, it’s very important to take good care of your gums to prevent gum disease.
Once again, bacteria from your mouth can affect other parts of the body. The Journal of Periodontology argues that gum disease can lead to infections in your lungs, including pneumonia. If you constantly breath in bacteria from infected teeth over long periods of time, then your lungs could be at risk.
Although poor oral hygiene won’t give you AIDS/HIV, good oral hygiene is essential for patients with AIDS/HIV because they are more prone to oral health problems. If the bacteria from oral problems gets into the bloodstream, it is also more likely to cause problems. Typically, when bacteria from the mouth enters the body, your immune system quickly dispenses of them, preventing infection. A weakened immune system, from AIDS/HIV (or other causes, like cancer treatment), means oral bacteria from your mouth is much more likely to cause an infection.
How to support your Overall Health by caring for your Oral Health
As you can see, it’s very important to take care of your mouth. Not only does it give you fresh breath and prevent tooth decay, it can help protect you from infections, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, and more. Here are a few easy things you can do to improve your oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Avoid sugary drinks and treats, and reduce snacking throughout the day
- Floss every day
- Avoid all types of tobacco use
- Replace your toothbrush head every 3-4 months
- Visit your dentist for a cleaning and check-up every 6 months
We can help
If you’d like to learn more about how oral hygiene affects your overall health, or if you’d like to get your teeth cleaned to reduce the risk of the health problems described in this article, contact us today.
Located in the John’s Creek, GA area, Lifetime Smiles knows the importance of having a healthy mouth and healthy body. Not only can we clean and check your mouth, we can also look for symptoms of health problems that often reveal themselves in the mouth earlier than other parts of the body.
Dr. Forester loves to listen and support patients as they seek to achieve their health goals. We hope you’ll visit us soon!
How Poor Dental care can affect your overall health
Oral Health: A window into your overall health
Oral Health And Overall Health: Why A Healthy Mouth Is Good For Your Body
The Mouth-Body Connection: 6 Ways Oral Hygiene Helps Keep You Well