You probably think that poor oral hygiene and not taking the utmost care of your mouth would only impact on the health of your teeth, gums and mouth. You are wrong. Numerous studies have shown links between the health of your mouth and the implications it has on your overall health. Perhaps the most well know link studied, is the correlation found between gum disease and heart disease. Therefore, we should be placing a higher value on looking after our oral hygiene, not just to keep our dentist happy and to maintain our teeth for as long as possible, but also to prevent any health problems our body could suffer as a result of poor oral health.
Gum disease is a nasty by product of not looking after your oral health; be it not brushing your teeth properly, not taking enough time and effort to do so or even not visiting your dentist to ensure you are doing everything possible and in the correct manner to look after your mouth. But brushing and flossing could actually help save your life.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (periodontology is the study of gums), people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (heart disease). And one study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.[i] A recent study of 100,000 people found that those who’d had their teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist twice or more over two years had a 24 per cent lower risk of heart disease and 13 per cent lower risk of a stroke.[ii] Although there is no question that there is a connection between poor gum health and heart disease, the exact relationship is not yet quite clear.
One theory is that the bacteria that enters your bloodstream in your mouth is what causes these nasty health problems, as this bacteria has been found clumped in artery plaques, therefore one theory is that these bacteria stick to the fatty plaques in the bloodstream, directly contributing to blockages. Another possibility is to do with how your body responds to with its defense mechanisms towards bacteria. That is your body’s natural response to infection is an inflammation (swelling). This means that as the oral bacteria travels through your bloodstream, a response is triggered by your body, resulting in your blood cells swelling which could then narrow a narrow an artery and increase the risk of clots.
Therefore if you are at risk of heart disease you probably have already undertaken common sense approaches to diminish your risk, such as losing weight, eating a healthier diet with more fruits and vegetables as well as increasing your fitness through exercise. But now you can do more by looking after your oral hygiene; taking the time to make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned your teeth and flossed.
It is also worth visiting your dentist, as not only will they help you with your oral hygiene technique and check that you are doing the best you can, but only your dentist will be able to do certain things you cannot. In your dental check-up, your dentist will examine to see if you have gum disease and what can be done to manage it. For example, you may require periodontal surgery if your gum disease has progressed beyond steps you can take at home to manage it. Also your dentist is able to give your teeth a through clean, not only in those hard to reach places, but also is able to deal with plaque that has been on your teeth so long, it has solidified into tartar. Hopefully after reading this, you will give more care and attention to your oral health, as your body is systematic, and an unhealthy mouth can indicate poor health elsewhere in your body.