The Connection Between Oral Hygiene and Whole-Body Health

The Connection Between Oral Hygiene and Whole-Body Health

Feb 16, 2019

The health of your mouth and gums is not entirely separate from the health of the rest of your body. In fact, more research has been conducted in recent years to determine the link between oral hygiene and overall health, with a focus on systemic issues caused by gum disease. The professionals at Comfort Care Dental in Calgary, AB are dedicated to helping you maintain good oral health.

Poor oral hygiene (such as failing to brush and floss regularly) can lead to not only cavities and tooth decay, but a condition called periodontitis, or gum disease. This is a bacterial infection in the mouth that can cause the gums to bleed, possibly allowing the bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to infect other areas. Several conditions have been linked to this complication.

Cardiovascular disease: as the bacteria from the mouth travels through the bloodstream, it can cause arteries to create plaque and harden, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. This can create issues with blood flow and potentially result in a heart attack.

Stroke: arteries in the brain can weaken and lead to the formation of blood clots, which lead to a stroke. Bacteria can also cause hypertension, another risk factor for a stroke.

Endocarditis: in addition to the blood vessels, the inner linings of the heart, the chambers and the valves, can be affected by bacteria from the mouth. Growth pockets can form, causing the tissues to become inflamed. This condition is called endocarditis and it can be fatal.

Respiratory infection: bacteria can travel from the mouth to the lungs through breathing, leading to respiratory infections such as pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Diabetes: individuals with diabetes can be especially vulnerable to bacteria from the mouth as it can weaken the body’s ability to use insulin and convert sugar to energy as it should.

Kidney disease: the immune system can be weakened by bacteria from gum disease, increasing the likelihood of kidney disease.

Osteoporosis: gum disease is a factor in not just the loss of bone tissue in the mouth, but bone loss throughout the body, including the hips, back, and wrists.

Rheumatoid arthritis: because bacteria causes inflammation in the body, if an inflammatory autoimmune disease is already an issue, pain associated with it can worsen.

Dementia & Alzheimer’s: if bacteria start to attack the nerve cells in the brain, those cells can die, leading to the kind of memory loss present in dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Pregnancy complications: premature birth, a low birth weight, and infection in the newborn are all risks for pregnant women who have gum disease. Poor oral hygiene can also cause infertility, making it difficult for some women to get pregnant.

Erectile dysfunction: as the blood vessels are affected, blood flow is blocked to all parts of the body.

Cancer: links have been found between poor oral hygiene and increased risks for blood cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer.

Clearly, maintaining a healthy mouth has more benefits than simply producing a beautiful smile to enjoy. For help in keeping your mouth healthy in Calgary, AB, schedule an appointment at Comfort Care Dental.

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