If you’re like most people, then you've probably heard at least one speech from your dentist about the importance of dental hygiene. Whether it's "Brushing each day keeps cavities away" or "Remember to floss," dentists and other dental professionals are in the business -- literally – of promoting a healthy mouth.
And you get it. Who wouldn’t want a lovely, sparkling white smile? What you may not know, however, is just how far your dental hygiene goes beyond your mouth. Welcome to the human body -- where everything is connected. In addition to cavities, gum disease and oral cancer, here are four other ways that poor dental hygiene can cause significant problems:
Cardiovascular Diseases. Getting to the Heart of the Matter.
When we think about keeping our heart healthy, we typically think of eating right and heading to the gym regularly. And while these pursuits are a good start, they are not the only factors controlling your heart health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there is a likely link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease.
Here’s what researchers are studying. With periodontal disease (which affects the gums) also comes the growth of bacteria. These bacteria are nuisance enough when in the mouth. However, if they enter the body's bloodstream, the belief is that they can become deadly, blocking arteries, leading to circulation problems and even the potential for a heart attack.
Diabetes. The Not-So-Sweet Link to Gum Disease.
While poor dental hygiene won't single-handedly cause diabetes, there are other known connections between the two ailments. Research has found that diabetics are at an increased risk of serious gum disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
In addition, scientists are now worried that the link may extend in the other direction as well. Individuals afflicted with gum disease may encounter problems controlling their blood glucose levels, which can aid in the development of diabetes. Of course, these oral problems must be severe in nature. So, although you don’t need to worry about every minor infection, until more research has been done, you do take this potential link seriously.
Kidney Disease. Put up a Fight.
Kidney disease can be a debilitating and even fatal condition. According to The Kidney Foundation of Canada, kidney disease can weaken the bones in your body, including your jaw. It also impairs the immune system, preventing you from fighting off infections, making oral conditions even more serious. But it doesn’t have to weaken your commitment to good oral health.
If you have kidney disease and need a dentist, be sure to let them know before any procedures are attempted. Infection is a serious possibility and certain kidney disease medications can thin the blood, worsening bleeding.
Respiratory Infections. The Truth Can Take Your Breath Away.
The National Library of Medicine published a study in 2010 examining the link between oral health and respiratory problems. These researchers found that pathogens, or bacteria created from oral complications like gum disease, can travel into the lungs. Once there, these intruders can cause a host of problems including acute bronchitis, infection and pneumonia.
So while focusing on good oral care is great for maintaining a healthy smile, it’s important to remember it’s also key to maintaining a healthy body. You cannot truly claim a fully healthy lifestyle if your teeth and your mouth are constantly in a state of disrepair. In other words, looking to improve your personal health? Then maybe it’s time to put your money – or better yet—your attention, where your mouth is.