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|What Can Dental Health Affect Besides Your Smile?
People who suffer from an inflammatory condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory infections often do not realize that their dental health may be playing a part in their illness. As we have studied the effects of improper oral care, strong correlations are being been drawn between gum (periodontal) disease and these conditions. In fact, having a healthy mouth seems to play a strong role in the overall health of your entire body. There is even some evidence that poor dental health can be a factor for seemingly unrelated health conditions such as kidney disease or even Alzheimer's!
We all know that brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups are essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums; but did you know that researchers now tie dental health to a variety of other health issues? It's true: conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory infections can all be linked to gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease seems to have a strong negative affect on inflammatory conditions, and may even be a factor for kidney disease or Alzheimer's. So what does modern science know about the correlations between the health of your mouth and the health of the rest of your body?
Of the many illnesses linked to gum disease, diabetes is the most strongly associated with periodontal health. The relationship between diabetes and gum disease goes two ways: periodontal disease can increase the risk of developing diabetes, and diabetics are highly prone to contract gum disease. Gum disease leads to an inflammatory response, which can in turn affect insulin sensitivity and lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Conversely, the blood sugar fluctuations that are a result of diabetes can cause gum inflammation and disease.
While researchers are sure there is a link between heart disease and gum disease, there are still several theories to explain why this link exists. Some say that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and attach to plaques that line coronary arteries, leading to clots. Another theory is that the inflammation that is a result of gum disease can increase plaque buildup, leading to clogged arteries. People with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to incur coronary artery disease as those with healthy gums.
People with periodontal disease are more vulnerable to respiratory infections such as pneumonia, because germs and bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled directly into the lungs. Inhaled oral bacteria have also been linked to the frequency of infection in patients who have pulmonary disease, because they are less able to eliminate these harmful bacteria from their lungs. Researchers are now conducting studies to better understand the link between oral and respiratory health.
In addition to being the leading cause of adult tooth loss and a factor for several specific conditions, gum disease can also affect your general health. The best way to prevent gum disease is to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, and the use of an antiseptic mouthwash. Gum disease often presents no noticeable symptoms, so it is also important to visit your dentist for a twice-yearly check-up to ensure that your gums are as healthy as they can be. Looking to get your dental check-up? Contact us to make an appointment today!
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