We all know it is important to look after our teeth if we don’t want to lose them. However, scientific studies are finding more and more links between the health of our mouths and our overall health. In short, taking good care of your teeth and gums can mean you live a longer, healthier life.
There are links between your oral health and the following health issues:
One of the main culprits in causing complications and other diseases is Periodontitis, or gum disease. Gum disease is extremely common and affects most UK adults at some point in their lives. The symptoms are red and swollen gums that may bleed when brushing your teeth or eating hard foods. It is caused by bacteria in the plaque that builds up on our teeth every day.
Its mild form is known as gingivitis, this is easily reversible with good brushing and some visits to your hygienist. If left untreated the disease progresses to periodontitis which cannot be resolved with brushing alone. You will need to seek treatment with a specialist Periodontist who can help to remove hardened plaque and bacteria from your teeth and underneath the gums. Chronic gum disease can lead to loss of teeth but also has implications on the rest of your body.
Inflammation of the gums allows bacteria easy access to your bloodstream where it can affect your body in many ways.
Heart disease is characterised by a narrowing of the arteries either through inflammation or a build of plaque and fatty deposits on the walls. A heart attack occurs when a blot clot forms and then becomes stuck in these narrow arteries, blocking blood supply to part of the heart. It is thought that there are two ways gum disease can contribute to heart disease. Either, bacteria enters the blood stream and attaches to the fatty plaque deposits blocking the arteries. Or, the inflammation caused by gum disease can lead to a swelling of the arteries again narrowing the flow of blood. Research has found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.
Studies have shown that men with a history of gum disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those with no history of gum disease. People with chronic gum disease harbour a higher level of harmful bacteria in the mouth and gut, over years these can lead to an increase in cancer causing nitrosamines.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease which causes painful inflammation of the joints. Inflammation is the connection between arthritis and gum disease, studies have found that when inflammation of the gums is controlled with good oral hygiene, then other symptoms and pains of arthritis are reduced. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for sufferers of arthritis to maintain good oral hygiene as the disease often affects joints in the hands which make it difficult to hold small objects such as a toothbrush. An electric toothbrush can be helpful in these situations as well as regular visits to a hygienist.
The connection between Diabetes and gum disease goes both ways. Diabetics are more susceptible to infections and so have a greater chance of developing severe gum disease than non-diabetics. Periodontitis can also increase your blood sugar level making it more difficult to control diabetes. If you are Diabetic it is very important to have regular visits with your dentist and hygienist as they can help to prevent or treat gum disease.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy make women more susceptible to gum disease. However, uncontrolled periodontal disease can lead to premature births, small babies or preeclampsia. Inflamed gums make it easier for bacteria to enter the blood stream, and studies have discovered bacteria usually found in the mouth present in both placentas and the amniotic fluid of pregnant women with gum disease. Regular visits to your dentist and hygienist can help you maintain good oral health throughout your pregnancy.
Scientific research is not yet conclusive on connections between dental health and the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. However, early studies suggest that exposure to inflammation in early life can increase the risk. Inflammation caused by chronic periodontal disease could therefore have severe consequences later in life.
With scientists discovering more and more connections between the health of your mouth and the health of your body, it has never been more important to look after your teeth and gums. A full, comprehensive examination will allow our dentists the opportunity to advise you of any potential problems that need addressing, and to help you prevent future dental health issues. With a whole team of friendly hygienists and dentists who are dedicated to treating gum disease, we can help to keep you healthy!
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