While most people understand that poor dental hygiene can lead to cavities and gum disease, many are unaware of how unhealthy teeth and gums can indirectly promote other medical problems throughout the body. If you haven’t been prioritizing your oral health, here are some good reasons to start.
Protecting Your Overall Health
While most people associate bad dental hygiene with toothaches or unsightly stains, the effects can go much deeper. Researchers have drawn compelling links between bad oral health and serious medical issues, including:
- Cardiovascular disease: Studies indicate that oral health can have an indirect impact on our cardiovascular health. In some cases, periodontal disease could result in bacteria entering the bloodstream, where it may cause or exacerbate atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). This can cause plaque to accumulate on the inner walls of arteries, leading to decreased blood flow that can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Respiratory infections: According to a study appearing in the Journal of Periodontology, gum disease could increase the risk of respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Dementia: Some research indicates that poor oral hygiene could increase the risk of dementia, especially when people experience tooth loss as a result.
- Pregnancy issues: Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight and premature birth.
- Erectile dysfunction: Numerous studies have found a link between poor dental health and erectile dysfunction.
- Diabetic complications: Periodontal disease can worsen symptoms of diabetes by making it more difficult for patients to control their blood sugar.
- Endocarditis: A dangerous infection of the inner lining of your heart, endocarditis results when bacteria or other germs spread from other parts of your body – such as your mouth – through your bloodstream and attach to the heart.
- Fertility issues: Scientific studies have found a significant association between periodontitis and subnormal sperm count.
- Kidney disease: Researchers have shown a potential link between poor oral hygiene and deadly kidney disease.
- Cancer: Some research has drawn a link between poor oral health and an increased risk of a particularly deadly cancer. While they don’t completely understand the relationship, researchers believe that the bacteria that cause periodontitis also play some type of role in the onset of pancreatic cancer.
As you can see, poor oral hygiene doesn’t just result in simple toothaches. If you have cavities, periodontal disease, missing or rotten teeth, the effects on the body can be immense. This is why it’s so important to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. You should also schedule routine cleanings and examinations to catch small issues before they evolve into serious problems. This is especially true if you have diabetes or some other underlying health issue that could potentially worsen if your oral health is poor.