We often think of good dental hygiene as something you do to take care of your teeth. But, there is medical evidence that poor dental hygiene doesn’t just affect your dental health – it can have negative impacts on the rest of your body as well. Bad dental hygiene habits can lead to more serious diseases. Here are a few examples.
Gum disease is the most obvious consequence of poor dental hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque and bacteria build up in your gums.This leads to gums becoming inflamed and irritated – signs of infection. Left untreated, gum disease causes bacteria to start breaking down the tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. If the gum disease progresses too far, it can lead to tooth loss.
Early symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums during tooth brushing, tender gums, and persistent bad breath. If you experience these symptoms, schedule a professional teeth cleaning with your dentist and discuss how you can change your habits to keep the gum disease in check.
Inflammation in the mouth can affect your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Diabetics already have problems regulating blood sugar due to a lack of insulin, so poor dental health can create further complications. The oral health/diabetes interaction works both ways, too. High blood sugar (a consequence of diabetes) creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in the body, which can intensify gum disease. If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing it, it’s especially important to take care of your teeth.
Studies have shown that patients with poor dental hygiene are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. The reasons for this link are not fully understood, but doctors theorize that the inflammation caused by gum disease has far-reaching impacts on cardiovascular systems. When the body is in a constant state of inflammation, blood vessels work harder. This stresses the heart and puts you at greater risk of hypertension. Gum disease also seems to increase blood pressure and interfere with the effectiveness of medications that treat hypertension.
If you are pregnant, it’s especially important to take care of your teeth. Studies indicate that poor oral health in expectant mothers can lead to premature delivery, low birth weight, and infection in the child. The bacteria in a pregnant woman’s mouth can work their way to her unborn child. So if you’re pregnant, don’t just take care of your teeth for your own sake – think of your child, too.
Research published in the Journal of Periodontology indicated that patients with respiratory diseases had worse oral health than patients in a control group. Bacteria in the gums can weaken the body’s defenses against further infection and provide a breeding ground for bacteria that cause respiratory illnesses. Poor dental health can put you at greater risk for pneumonia, bronchitis, and other diseases of the respiratory system.
We hope that this article has given you an extra push to take care of your teeth. Good dental hygiene doesn’t just give you a bright smile – it could save your life!