Having excellent oral hygiene and taking great care of your teeth and gums is an essential step in doing your part to prevent things like tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath from happening to you. However, most are unaware that taking proper care of their oral health also directly impacts the rest of their body's overall health.
We're here to help break down which overall health conditions may be directly linked to poor oral health and what you can do to keep your entire body as healthy as possible.
Top Health Conditions Linked To Poor Oral Health
Studies have demonstrated that people with bleeding gums from poor dental hygiene could be increasing their risk of developing heart disease. When you have bleeding gums, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and stick to platelets, which can then form blood clots, interrupting blood flow to the heart and ultimately triggering a heart attack.
Several reports of solid evidence link gum disease and pancreatic cancer. In 2007, the findings of periodontitis, a specific type of gum inflammation, were found to be directly associated with those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Research has also suggested that there may be a link between high levels of carcinogenic compounds found in the mouths of people with gum disease and pancreatic cancer risk. While this is not an established risk factor, one could assume that gum disease could very well create an environment favorable to the development.
A bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis is usually associated with chronic gum disease, and past studies have tried to prove a connection between patients affected with Alzheimer's, their brains, and the consistent finding of Porphyromonas gingivitis in these patients. There is sufficient scientific evidence to show that two of the three gum disease-causing bacteria are capable of motion and have been consistently found in brain tissue of those affected with Alzheimer's.
Connecting Gum Disease To Other Associated Conditions
Both gum disease and potentially associated conditions like heart disease are incredibly complex conditions, with so many defining factors. It isn't easy to stage a comprehensive study to deliver a definitive answer while controlling the necessary variables. But as more and more studies yield an unexplainable gum disease - heart disease connection, researchers continue to explore the reasons for this link.
Know Your Risks For Developing Gum Disease
Certain factors make you more likely to experience gum disease at some point in your life. While some of these factors are unavoidable, many are entirely preventable by taking extra care of your oral hygiene and habits to keep your smile intact and healthy.
The risk factors of gum disease include:
- Genetics - A family history of gum disease makes certain people more likely to develop periodontal disease.
- Age - Being over 65 increases your risk of developing gum disease by as much as 70%.
- Medications - Certain medications like oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and certain heart medications can affect your oral health. These medications can cause dry mouth and a lack of natural saliva, which directly negatively impacts your oral health.
- Poor Nutrition - A diet that's lacking nutrients can compromise the body's immune system, making it that much more difficult for your body to fight off infection - including infection in your gums. Research also shows that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.
- Systemic Diseases - Certain health and medical conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease are linked to gum disease.
- Use Of Tobacco Products - If you are someone who uses tobacco products of any kind, your risk of developing many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and periodontal disease puts you at risk for developing and progressing these diseases.
Preventing Other Health Conditions With Great Dental Health
It's a proven fact that certain diseases show up in your mouth first, making your dentist the first defense against new health problems. While you may not see your physician on a routine basis, scheduling regular dental exams every six months could help you keep not just your teeth and gums healthy but the rest of your body as well.
Do your part by:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing once a day between your teeth to clean places your toothbrush cannot reach
- Eating a nutrient-rich and balanced diet
- Limiting snacking between meals
- Scheduling regular oral exams and professional cleanings every six months with your dentist
Contact Elite Dental & Denture PC today and schedule your next cleaning and exam to determine if you're at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.