You take care of your teeth and gums because you want an attractive smile, pleasant breath and healthy teeth in your old age. But, there are many more reasons to look after your oral health! Studies have shown a number of links between oral health and overall health. Scientific evidence points toward a connection between oral infections and other diseases in the body. The following links are only beginning to be understood.
Diabetes: Those with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing gum disease. Chronic gum disease may make diabetes more difficult to control by causing insulin resistance and disrupting blood sugar control.
Cardiovascular disease: Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) may cause inflammation throughout the body contributing to the development of plaque in the arteries and increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke
Preterm Birth: Oral bacteria release toxins that may reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream and interfere with the growth and development of the baby. Oral infection may cause the mother’s body to produce substances that trigger labour leading to premature labour and birth.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis causes your bones to become weak and brittle and may be linked to the loss of bone, connective tissue and gum surrounding and supporting your teeth.
Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease: Dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to the spread of oral bacteria through the nerve channels in the head and through the bloodstream.
Respiratory Disorders: It may be possible to inhale micro-organisms from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These organisms may cause infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema or they may worsen a pre-existing condition.
Infertility: Gum disease may lead to overall health difficulties that can make it difficult to conceive and sustain pregnancy.
Cancer: The risk for many cancers (throat, kidney, blood, and pancreatic cancers) is higher for those who have poor oral health.
Kidney Disease: Gum disease may weaken your immune system making it more likely to develop kidney infections/disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: People with gum disease are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis (a painful and debilitating inflammatory disease).
Digestive problems: Problems with oral health may affect the chemical and physical processes in the mouth leading to digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal failure.
How can I protect my oral health and my overall health?
Don’t Despair! There are many way you can protect your oral health and thus help safeguard your general health.
- Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily and use a mouthwash that contains fluoride
- Eat a healthy diet. Limit between-meal snacks. Limit sugary foods and drinks.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months.
- Avoid tobacco use.
- Use your toothbrush to clean your tongue daily.
- Visit your dentist regularly for exams and cleanings.
Proper dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are important for keeping your mouth and body healthy!
For advice on your oral health, Call Centennial Smiles! 587-353-5060.