Beyond the Obvious Benefits to Your Dental Well-Being, Good Oral Health Helps Prevent Other Health Complications
Good oral hygiene means taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth at home and with regular visits to your dentist.
Proper oral hygiene with regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. Good oral hygiene prevents bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. It will also prevent tooth loss as you age.
But aside from having a mouth that looks and smells good, your oral health is also linked to your overall health.
Without proper oral care, you can develop gum disease, which is linked to a number of health issues.
Spot Diseases Before They Become a Problem
Some diseases present early symptoms in the mouth. So your dentist is often the first healthcare practitioner to notice these symptoms.
Most systemic diseases—those that affect your entire body—are often first noticed with symptoms in the mouth. This is why it is so important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. They can catch signs and symptoms of disease early on. Plus, early diagnosis tends to lead to better outcomes for recovery.
Some examples of diseases detected from mouth problems include:
- Oral cancer
How Gum Disease Increases the Likelihood of Health Complications
Without daily flossing and brushing, bacteria build up along the gum line, forming plaque. This plaque build-up eventually leads to gum disease.
There are three levels of gum disease (infection)—gingivitis, periodontitis, and trench mouth. Trench mouth—or acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis—is the most severe form of gum infection.
These gum infections increase the risk of bacteria entering your blood stream—either from invasive dental treatments or from flossing and brushing. For those with healthy immune systems, this bacteria shouldn’t be a problem. But for those with weakened immune systems, this bacteria can cause an infection in another part of your body, such as your heart valves.
Along with eventually losing your teeth, long-term gum infections can lead to other health risks such as:
The bacteria from gum disease can cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. The results may be clogged arteries from plaques in the arteries and blood clots. This could increase someone’s risk for heart attack and stroke.
Severe gum disease could be linked to premature labour and births, leading to babies having low birth weights. Oral bacteria may release toxins that travel through a pregnant mother’s bloodstream to the placenta, interfering with the development of the fetus. The gum infection could also cause an expectant mother to produce labour-triggering chemicals too early, triggering premature labour and birth.
Those who have diabetes may find it more difficult to control their blood sugar levels. Diabetics are at an increased risk of gum disease. And chronic gum infections may cause insulin resistance, disrupting blood sugar control.
By taking care of your oral health, you’re taking care of your overall health.
With good oral hygiene and regular checkups at your dentist, you can prevent future health problems for your mouth, teeth, gums, and the rest of your body.