Oral health is more important than you may realize and it is imperative to understand the connection between poor oral health and overall health. Poor oral health can lead to periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, which can then lead to a host of other serious medical conditions, such as diabetes. Poor oral health may also affect or contribute to various other health conditions and diseases, including:
1. Diabetes – Having diabetes can contribute to poor oral health and gum disease, as it puts the gums at risk due to the body’s lowered resistance to infection. Individuals with inadequate blood sugar control have a higher risk of developing further severe infections, including the infection of the gums. An infection of the gums can impair the body’s ability to utilize or process insulin, which makes diabetes much more difficult to control.
2. Endocarditis – Poor oral health and gum disease, coupled with a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, can cause complications and infections in other parts of the body, such as the membranous lining of the heart. Since gum disease and other dental procedures cut or wound the gums, bacteria and plaque are allowed to enter the bloodstream, which then block or damage the blood vessels and arties leading to heart disorders.
3. Alzheimer’s – Poor oral health and gum disease can lead to Alzheimer’s; with an NYU study finding an increased inflammation of the gums, leading to increased inflammation and degeneration of the brain, which impaired cognitive functions.
4. Cardiovascular disease – Poor oral health and gum disease may lead to cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that heart disease is associated with oral bacteria due to inflammation from a severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Individuals with gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease compared to individuals that have healthy tissues, which is again due to wounded gums and the displacement of oral plaque and bacteria into blood vessels and arteries.
5. Other – The pain and swelling caused by gum disease can also lead to a greater occurrence of stroke, low-birth weight babies, oral cancer, pre-eclampsia and pancreatic cancer.
Proper oral hygiene is essential not only to prevent oral health problems, but overall health, as well. Appropriate dental care is crucial for proper oral hygiene, which can prevent gum disease. Brushing and flossing routinely along with routine cleanings performed by a dentist are fundamental to proper oral hygiene.
Without consistent proper oral care, numerous overall health issues can result. Routine dental exams can protect your oral health, as well as protect your overall health, and your dentist is able to uncover problems in the early stages, when a problem is easily treatable and the damage is nominal. Treating conditions early and learning how to prevent gum disease will protect your oral health and help avoid health problems associated with poor oral health.