Good teeth can keep your health bills low. They can do even more–they can help protect you from a whole host of health problems. The following are 5 good reasons why you should take great care of your teeth.
Heart Disease & Stroke
Several studies have established that inflammation and bacteria in the mouth and gums can travel into the bloodstream, leading to thickening of the arteries and increasing the risk of a heart attack. Build up of fatty plaques in the vessels can break off and go to the brain and cause a stroke.
Just brushing once a day instead of two times could increase the risk of heart disease by 70%. This is according to one recent study published in the British Medical Journal which analyzed data from over 11,000 adults. So for a healthy heart keep up a good dental hygiene.
Did you know that preventing gum infections may ward off diabetes? Doctors have long known that Type 2 diabetics have an increased occurrence of periodontal disease. A recent study out of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health that followed 9,296 non-diabetic participants over 20 years found that people who had higher levels of periodontal disease had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with low levels or no gum infections.
One theory proposes that serious oral infections can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout your body and that inflammation may destroy your ability to process sugar.
The close connection of your mouth and lungs is very obvious. So it stands to reason that keeping your mouth clean and healthy can also help keep your lungs protected according to a recent study in the Journal of Periodontology. In a pool of 200 participants aged 20 to 60, researchers found that patients suffering from a respiratory illness such as pneumonia, acute bronchitis, an upper respiratory infection, or COPD had poorer periodontal health than those in the control group. The reason for this association likely lies in the bacteria caused by periodontal disease, which forms in the upper throat. From there it can easily be inhaled into the lower respiratory tract and can obstruct breathing or develop into more serious lung-related problems.
More and more studies are being conducted that explore different parts of the body. The latest study out of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden suggests that women may be over 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer if they have missing teeth and gum disease. Since this is one of the first studies of its kind, more research needs to be done to back up the results, but so far they seem to be on track with the current findings that poor dental hygiene can directly affect your general health.
If you’re pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your oral health. Due to hormonal fluctuations and the increased blood flow throughout your body during pregnancy, you are more likely to notice changes in your teeth and gums. According to the American Academy of Periodontists, about 50% of pregnant women develop gingivitis, a condition that leaves gums inflamed, bleeding, swollen, or tender. Left unchecked it can lead to periodontal disease, a serious infection that could create problems in the delivery room. While research is still being done, several studies suggest there is a direct relationship between infected bacteria in your mouth and premature deliveries, low-birth rate, and preeclampsia. To be safe, be diligent about brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist, and make sure to alert her to any pain or problems that pop up over the nine months.
As more and more research is done, it is becoming clear that there is a mouth to body connection. Even if some of the studies are inconclusive, it is safer to have a good dental hygiene than take a chance. After all, preventing the disease is less expensive than dealing with the consequence. So, get your regular dental check-ups, floss regularly and brush twice a day.