The health of your teeth and gums in intimately linked to the health of your body as a whole. Poor dental hygiene allows bacteria in your mouth to rapidly multiply, and over time the bacteria build up on your teeth. This build-up can lead to inflammation of your gums, called gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated, you can develop periodontitis, a serious gum infection accompanied by swelling and inflammation. Periodontitis has been linked to several health problems.
According to WebMD, about 90% of patients who have heart disease also have periodontitis. Doctors believe that inflamed gums lead to inflamed blood vessels. Inflammation of blood vessels can raise blood pressure by constricting the vessels and thus reducing blood flow from the heart, says Dr. Sally Cram of the American Dental Association. In addition, inflammation of blood vessels increases the likelihood that a piece of the arterial plaque of atherosclerosis may break free of the artery wall and travel to the brain or the heart. This can lead to stroke or heart attack.
If you have diabetes, it is vitally important that you control your blood sugar level because high blood sugar promotes the growth of bacteria. This means that you are acutely susceptible to periodontitis, especially if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. The inflammation that comes with periodontitis can worsen type 2 diabetes by making it more difficult for your body to use insulin, according to Dr. Pamela McClain of the American Academy of Periodontology.
Chronically poor dental hygiene that leads to periodontitis may increase your risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The reason is that if your gums are infected, you have a very high level of bacteria in your mouth. Inhaling through your mouth may carry some bacteria into the bronchial tubes of your lungs. Once the bacteria are in your lungs, they can incubate and cause an infection.
According to a study published online in June 2012 in the medical journal “BMJ Open,” poor dental hygiene may increase your risk of premature death from cancer. The authors selected about 1400 Swedish adults in their 30s and 40s, and assessed their cancer risk factors and their level of dental plaque at the start of the study. After 24 years, 58 people had died of cancer and all of them were at an age much lower than their average life expectancy. The researchers noted that the dental plaque level of those who died was much higher than that of those who survived. After accounting for all other risk factors, the researchers concluded that dental plaque was associated with a 79% increase in the risk of premature cancer death.
The prescription of the American Dental Association for good oral hygiene involves brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. In addition, you should adhere to a healthful diet, and see your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and an oral examination. If you follow this advice, you will go a long way toward achieving and maintaining good overall health.
Guest Post Submitted by: Dana Hatteroy writes about health, finance & credit scores.
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