You probably already know that eating lots of sugary foods, not brushing your teeth and avoiding your dentist can result in cavities and other dental issues. But did you know that poor dental health can also have an effect on the rest of your body?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common dental problem. The issue begins with gingivitis and can lead to periodontitis if left untreated. While it starts out as a mild nuisance and can easily be reversed, this ailment can become quite serious and lead to the loss of teeth.
However, there's more to gum disease than just your mouth. As periodontal disease occurs after a build-up of plaque on the teeth, the bacteria can travel to the lungs, where it can aggravate any existing lung conditions or even lead to infection.
There is also some evidence that gingivitis is linked to blood clots, clogged arteries and heart problems. While research in this area is still ongoing, it's believed that the infection in your mouth that causes inflammation in the gums might result in inflammation in other areas of the body. When the arteries become inflamed, this can increase the risk of strokes and even heart attacks.
For example, according to Colgate Professional, one study showed that 60 per cent of research participants who had lost 10 or more teeth had carotid artery plaque. Naturally, losing 10 or more teeth is an extreme example of a periodontal disease that is generally easy to treat in its very early stages. However, this suggests that severe dental issues can be connected to some wider health problems.
In many cases, regular brushing and flossing, a balanced diet and visits to your dentist are enough to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Even if a problem arises that can't be avoided through good oral hygiene (such as erupted wisdom teeth), we can help you spot and treat these problems before they have a chance to worsen or affect your general health.
It's also important to note the link between your general well-being and your oral health. Many common issues can cause or worsen problems with your teeth and gums.
For example, if you have diabetes, you tend to be more susceptible to gum disease. This is because diabetes causes your blood to thicken, which hinders the flow of nutrients to your mouth and slows the removal of waste. In turn, this makes it harder for your gums and bone tissue to fight infection.
Osteoporosis is a difficult disease that decreases the strength of your bones over time. While many of us only think about how this can affect our arms, legs, hips and other bones throughout the body, don't forget that it can impact your dental health. Certain osteoporosis medications can have a big effect on your teeth and gums, so be sure to mention the condition and any medications to your dentist. If you haven’t been diagnosed with osteoporosis, keep in mind that some dentists are the first to spot early signs of the condition.
To wrap up, it's vital to remember that your dental health and your overall well-being are often closely linked. If one suffers, the other may also be negatively affected. If you're concerned about this link (one way or the other!), remember that visits to your dentist can help. Routine check-ups and preventive care can help you prevent health problems.
Just remember, it’s never too late to start! With the start of 2017, many of you may have dental benefits that renew with the new year. Regardless of your arrangements, a new year is a great time to start caring for your smile and your overall wellbeing.
Head here to make an appointment or chat with one of our friendly team members.