While keeping up with brushing and flossing may seem to be a trivial habit that only impacts the oral cavity, it is important to note that good dental hygiene not only affects the conditions inside the mouth, but also plays a major role in determining the health of various aspects of the body. Here some examples of how lack of proper dental care can lead to detrimental effects in the body.
As inflammation starts up in the mouth, studies have shown that this weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Due to the lack of insulin, which is the hormone that converts sugar into energy, people who struggle with diabetes have trouble processing sugar. Diabetics who have periodontal disease are further impaired because inflammation hinders the body ability to use insulin. Research has also demonstrated that high blood sugar enables infections to worsen. However, because of this gum disease-diabetes relationship, keeping up with good oral hygiene can keep diabetes under control.
Research has shown that up to 91% of patients with heart disease have gum disease, while 66% of people without heart disease have gum disease. Both heart disease and periodontitis share various risk factors, including smoking, unhealthy diet, and excess weight. Some researchers also suggest that periodontitis may play a direct role in raising the risk for heart disease. It is thought that inflammation in the mouth also leads to inflammation in the blood vessels, which can heighten the risk of heart attack. Inflamed blood vessels restrict blood travel between the heart and the rest of the body, which ultimately raises blood pressure.
Studies also delved into how periodontitis affects arterial walls. Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty material collects within arteries, causing these vessels to become narrower. The build up of fatty material leads to many cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, angina (chest pains), and even stroke. It has been found that the bacteria that enters and grows in the mouth were the same bacteria found in the atherosclerotic plaques that were clogging patients’ arteries.
The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study that found a relationship between the use of non-alcohol antimicrobial mouth rinse in pregnant women and the decreased rate of premature deliveries. Researchers have found that inflammation caused by gum disease has the potential of resulting in premature birth. Early deliveries can result in babies having low birth weight or even various health problems, including heart conditions and learning disorders. But good news: the study showed that pregnant women who rinse twice with mouthwash on a daily basis are 25% less likely to deliver early.
There is strong evidence indicating that poor oral hygiene is a contributing factor to chronic lower respiratory diseases. Research suggests that bacteria developed from gum disease can travel through airways into the lungs, which may potentially lead to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Poor dental health may worsen one’s conditions if one is a smoker, cancer patient, or is aging. To protect the respiratory system, it is important to reduce the growth of bacteria and the development of plaque in one’s mouth to prevent inflammation in the airways and the worsening of other breathing problems.
A Turkish study revealed evidence that lack of oral hygiene can have consequences on your sex life. It was found that men in their 30s who were suffering from severe periodontal disease were 3 times more likely to suffer from erection problems than were those who did not have gum disease. Erectile dysfunction and chronic periodontitis in humans also have similar risk factors, including age, smoking, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
Poor dental care has shown to result in negative impact on one’s overall health, but no fear! Continued efforts to maintain a healthy smile has been shown to improve one’s health in different parts of the body.
If you have any concerns, Drs. Ali & Ali and their team at Wellesley Dental Group will be very happy to answer your questions. Contact us today at 781-237-9071 firstname.lastname@example.org!