Many people think of dental health as separate from general health, but the fact of the matter is that your dental hygiene can directly impact your overall health. This is primarily because bacteria that congregate in your mouth can spread to other parts of your body if you don’t take proper care of your teeth, leading to a variety of infections and diseases.
Here are four of the ways in which poor dental hygiene can negatively affect your body’s overall health:
Some newer research is now suggesting that bacteria originating in your mouth can travel to your heart and harden or clog the heart’s arteries. The hardening and clogging of these arteries leads to an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. In other words, keeping your teeth healthy can help keep your heart healthy.
Periodontitis, which is an infection that causes inflammation in your gums, has been linked to several birth complications. Among these are low birth weight and premature birth, both of which can put the baby at risk. This means that dental hygiene is especially important for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Most people don’t realize that bacteria growing in your mouth are pulled into your lungs over time as you inhale. This is why poor dental hygiene has been linked to several respiratory illnesses, particularly pneumonia, which can be life-threatening in the most severe cases.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
The bacteria from gingivitis, another common gum disease, can flow to your brain either through your bloodstream or via nerve channels in your head. While it isn’t proven beyond a doubt, many researchers now believe that these bacteria can place people, particularly the elderly, at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. If your family has a history with Alzheimer’s, you should be especially mindful of your dental hygiene.
These are just a few of the health risks associated with poor dental hygiene. As easy as it is to think of dental health as unrelated to the health of more vital organs such as your heart, lungs or brain, failing to take proper care of your mouth and teeth can negatively impact all of these organs. One final note: if you have teeth that have fallen out or been surgically removed, it’s strongly recommended that you consider dental implants. Empty spaces between teeth can easily become bacterial breeding grounds, which is why implants can help you reduce your risk of oral infections.
By Emma Sturgis
who is a freelance writer and residing in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and health.