The warm moist environment of your mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to thrive. Lack of oral hygiene not only causes inflamed gums and cavities but a whole range of health problems, too. Oral bacteria can travel into your bloodstream, induce inflammation and lead to endocarditis, premature pregnancies, diabetes, AIDS, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's.
Despite commercials for tooth whiteners, mouthwashes and other products to give you sweet-smelling breath and a dazzling smile, the health of your teeth and gums is much more critical to overall health than most people realize. As people get older, often they begin to lose teeth and it has a dramatic effect on their appetite. They have trouble chewing, and so do not get the nutrition they desperately need to maintain strength and muscle mass. This happened to my dad, so I saw the impact first-hand. They become frail, weak and often end up bedridden.
You Have More “Bugs” than Cells
Whether you realize it or not, your body is made up of more bacteria than there are human cells. It’s true! And your mouth is no exception. The warm moist environment is the perfect place for bacteria to thrive. The dental plaque your dentist scrapes at your cleanings contains more than 500 species of bacteria. Without proper oral hygiene, those bacteria can reach levels that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Don’t Ignore Gum Health
And, keeping your pearly whites beautiful is only half the story; you need healthy gums. Gum or periodontal disease is the sixth most prevalent chronic condition in the world, affecting 743 million people, one in every two adults – even more than diabetes! Gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums and the earliest stage of gum disease, causes swollen gums, irritation, bleeding and leads to receding gums, damaged tissue, bone and tooth loss.
It All Comes Down to Inflammation
Inflammation is the root of all chronic diseases and periodontal disease is no exception. The bacteria and inflammation caused by it can develop into periodontitis which is a severe form of gum disease.1 It’s been found that it can play a role in some other systemic chronic diseases such as:
- Endocarditis – This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. Bacteria or other germs from your mouth can spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular Disease – According to research, heart disease, clogged arteries and increased risk of stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy And Birth – Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Diabetes – Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who already have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a more difficult time controlling blood sugar levels.
- HIV/AIDS – Oral problems, such as painful lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis might be linked with periodontal bone and tooth loss.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep Your Teeth And Gums Healthy
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy will impact more than your winning smile, which in and of itself affects your confidence and is very important. Keep in mind the following:
- Regular dental visits and cleanings;
- Proper, daily flossing and brushing;
- A healthy, nutrient-dense diet of fresh, whole foods;
- Additional things like oral probiotics and certain supplements; and
- Learning to address stress can go a long way to keeping your mouth healthy.
Quote to highlight: “Gum or periodontal disease is the sixth most prevalent chronic condition in the world.”
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|1.||↑||Treating gum disease may lessen the burden of heart disease, diabetes, other conditions, Harvard Health Publications|