Brushing and flossing your teeth and regular dentist visits will help maintain your teeth and gum health, but many people are unaware that good oral hygiene is also very important for their general health.
Problems in one area of the body often indicate problems in seemingly unrelated areas. For example, oral problems may actually be symptoms of other diseases and conditions. Research has found that oral problems like gum disease can even be related to conditions like heart disease.
Because the mouth is a doorway to the entire body, problems here can easily spread into the body. A growing body of research is demonstrating that a relationship exists between oral bacteria, the inflammation it causes, and a number of diseases. Here are some ways that oral hygiene can affect your overall health.
Gum disease is one possible complication of diabetes. Diabetes may alter blood vessels in a way that causes restricted blood flow. In turn, this can weaken and damage the gums, making them more likely to become infected. Blood sugar also increases with diabetes, and if left untreated, can lead to increased glucose levels that foster the growth of bacteria.
The relationship between oral health and diabetes is so strong that dentists can identify diabetics 73 percent of the time based upon the presence of tooth gaps and missing teeth. The accuracy increases to 92 percent when blood tests are also performed.
A number of studies have found a link between chronic gum infections and an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. One review of previously published studies found that those with gum disease had almost a 20 percent greater risk of having cardiovascular disease that those without gum disease.
The reason for the correlation between gum disease and cardiovascular disease is unclear at this time. Some researchers feel that gum disease results in excessive inflammation due to bacteria, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Others suggest that oral bacteria may end up finding its way into the bloodstream, traveling to the heart and causing arterial plaque buildup. One study even located oral bacteria inside such plaque.
However, for many, the relationship between oral health and cardiovascular disease is clearer. A condition called endocarditis — a condition involving heart valve lining inflammation — is usually caused by bacteria that travels to the heart through the bloodstream. Poor oral hygiene may allow bacteria into the bloodstream and ultimately to the heart.
People often do not realize the ways that oral health impacts their body generally. Many fail to give their orthodontist a complete medical history, like medications they are taking. Too often, people believe that this information is unrelated to orthodontics.
Many medications for conditions like osteoporosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and others can slow the ability of bone to heal. This is why it is so important to make a full disclosure of your medical history.
Oral health and oral hygiene can affect your entire body. At Runnels Orthodontics, we will work with you to help you get a beautiful, healthy mouth. We offer many different orthodontic treatments to ensure you get that million dollar smile.