Your oral health is an essential part of your overall health. The inside of your mouth is a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive as it's dark, warm, and moist, with the food and drinks you consume providing nutrients for them. This bacteria can build up around your teeth and gums, increasing your risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease is an infection and inflammation in the gums and bones that surround your teeth.
Poor Oral Health Causes Various Health Issues: A growing but limited body of research has found that periodontal disease is linked to various health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory infections, and dementia. Though the mechanism of how oral bacteria affects your overall health is not well understood, certain conditions are more linked with oral health than others.
Are You at an Early Stage of Periodontal Disease? According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 47 percent of people aged 30 years and older in the United States have some form of periodontal disease. In its early stages, called gingivitis, the gums may become swollen, red, or tender and bleed easily.
Early Treatment can Save You: If left untreated, gingivitis may escalate to periodontitis, a more serious form of the disease where gums can recede, bone can be lost, and teeth may become loose or even fall out. With periodontitis, bacteria and their toxic byproducts can move from the surface of the gums and teeth and into the bloodstream, where they can spread to different organs.
Gum Disease Can Lead to Diabetes: One of the most studied associations between oral health and disease is the one with diabetes. Periodontal disease seems to increase the risk of diabetes, and vice versa. It is believed that systemic inflammation caused by periodontal disease may worsen the body’s ability to signal for and respond to insulin. In another study, scientists found that diabetics who were treated for periodontal disease saw their overall healthcare costs decrease by 12 to 14 percent.
High Risk of Bacterial Aspiration Pneumonia: If large amounts of bacteria from the mouth are inhaled and settle in the lungs, that can result in bacterial aspiration pneumonia. This phenomenon has been observed mainly in hospitalized patients or older adults in nursing homes. Preventive dental care, such as professional teeth cleanings or periodontal treatments like antibiotic therapy, can lower the risk of developing this kind of pneumonia.
Plaque Buildup? Beware, It Can Cause a Stroke: In a report published in 2020, an international team of experts concluded that there is a significant link between periodontitis and heart attack, stroke, plaque buildup in the arteries, and other cardiovascular conditions.
While researchers haven’t determined how poor oral health might lead to worse heart health, some evidence suggests that periodontal bacteria from the mouth may travel to the arteries in vascular disease patients, potentially playing a role in the development of the disease.
Severe Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy: There are also associations between severe periodontal disease and preterm, low birth weight babies. These associations suggest that good oral health practices are essential during pregnancy.
Maintaining good oral health is crucial to your overall health. Regularly visiting the dentist, brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing regularly can prevent gum disease and improve your overall well-being. Remembering that good oral health practices can go a long way in protecting your overall health.