A lot of us lead very busy lives with little to no down time, so making a trip to the dentist can seem like the last thing you want to do, but taking good care of your oral and dental hygiene before problems arise can be a HUGE time saver in the long run, let me explain why….. Good oral health can prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease which in turn lowers your risks of having to have more extensive dental work in future such as crowns, root canal treatments, tooth extractions, dentures and implants. Researchers are also discovering new reasons to brush and floss.
A healthy mouth may help you ward off medical disorders. The flip side? An unhealthy mouth, especially if you have gum disease, may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labour. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! So taking some small and simple steps towards the long term health of your teeth and body can be a very rewarding and time saving venture. The problem with dental plaque: Links to infections and diseases Though your saliva helps protect you against some invaders, it can’t always do the job. More than 500 species of bacteria thrive in your mouth at any given time. These bacteria constantly form dental plaque, a sticky, colourless film that can cling to your teeth and cause health problems. If you don’t brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth clean, plaque can build up along your gum line, creating an environment for additional bacteria to accumulate in the space between your gums and your teeth. This gum infection is known as gingivitis. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis. The most severe form of gum infection is called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
Bacteria from your mouth normally doesn’t enter your bloodstream but if you suffer from gum disease, even a minor irritation in the area can result in ulceration of the mouth. Medications or treatments that reduce saliva flow and antibiotics that disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth can also compromise your mouth’s normal defences, allowing these bacteria to enter your bloodstream. If you have a healthy immune system, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream causes no problems. Your immune system quickly dispenses with them, preventing infection. However, if your immune system is weakened, for example because of a disease or cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream (bacteraemia) may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body. Infective endocarditis, in which oral bacteria enter your bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves, is an example of this phenomenon. Long-term gum infection can eventually result in the loss of your teeth. But the consequences may not end there. Recent research suggests that there may be an association between oral infections, primarily gum infections and poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth.
More research is needed to determine whether oral infections actually cause these conditions, which include: – Poorly controlled diabetes. If you have diabetes, you’re already at increased risk of developing gum disease. But chronic gum disease may, in fact, make diabetes more difficult to control, as well. Infection may cause insulin resistance, which disrupts blood sugar control. – Cardiovascular disease. Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) may also play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. It appears that bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation may serve as a base for development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Some research suggests that people with gum infections are also at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The more severe the infection, the greater the risk appears to be. And gum disease and tooth loss may contribute to plaques in the carotid artery. In one study, 46 percent of participants who’d lost up to nine teeth had carotid artery plaque; among those who’d lost 10 or more teeth, 60 percent of them had such plaque. – Preterm birth.
Severe gum disease may increase the risk of preterm delivery and giving birth to a low birth weight baby. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, in fact, estimates that as many as 18 percent of preterm, low birth weight babies born in the United States each year may be attributed to oral infections. The theory is that oral bacteria release toxins, which reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream and interfere with the growth and development of the foetus. At the same time, the oral infection causes the mother to produce labour-triggering substances too quickly, potentially triggering premature labour and birth. A compelling reason to develop good habits If you didn’t already have enough reasons to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums, the relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides even more. Resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day. You’re making an investment in your overall health, not just for now, but for the future, too.
So there you have it, dental health is more important than you thought! So stop what you’re doing, make some time in that busy schedule of yours and get on down to see your friendly dentist today.