Good oral hygiene isn’t just about fresh breath. Your mouth says a lot about you, and how well you take care of it can impact your health, exacerbate chronic diseases, and weaken your immune system. On the flip side, good oral hygiene can prevent disease and other problems.
Your mouth is teeming with bacteria, both good and bad. Your body’s natural defenses and good oral hygiene keep them under control and therefore harmless. Lack proper oral hygiene, however, can lead to a host of other problems, say the professionals at Kucey Dental Group. This unchecked bacteria growth leads to tooth decay, gum disease, and infections that can spread beyond your mouth. A severe form of gum disease, periodontitis, can even occur, resulting in soft tissue damage, bone loss, and tooth loss, and playing a role in the other health issues below. Periodontitis has also been linked to asthma, arthritis, and dementia.
People with diabetes are already much more prone to oral health issues, so improper hygiene habits only exacerbate this. Oral inflammation associated with gum disease weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels and impairs the ability to produce insulin. In return, high blood sugar creates the perfect conditions for inflammation and infections to worsen, making the diabetes-oral health relationship that much more important. Maintaining proper oral health is vital to effectively controlling diabetes.
Poor oral hygiene, and specifically periodontitis, has been linked to heart disease, artery inflammation, and endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Bacteria from your dirty mouth gets into your bloodstream, ending up in your heart and wreaking all kinds of havoc. This inflammation restricts blood flow, resulting in the build-up of fatty plaque along arterial walls, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent problems, as well as going to your regular dental appointments.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase women’s likelihood of developing periodontitis, making proper oral hygiene even more important. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth, low birth weight, and fetal development issues due to the infection crossing into the womb. On top of this, periodontitis makes it more difficult for women to conceive in the first place.
Finally, the bone loss associated with periodontitis has been linked to osteoporosis. This association is still being studied, but it is thought that the inflammation caused by periodontitis results in weakened bone in other parts of the body.
The importance of good oral hygiene is clear. Not only is lousy oral hygiene unappealing, it’s dangerous to your health. Talk with your dentist about things you can do to improve your oral hygiene and prevent disease.