The best reason to take care of your teeth is to keep your beautiful white smile, right? Not quite. It is now widely accepted among researchers, doctors and dentists that there is a definite link between gum disease and other serious diseases.
It starts when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms along and under your gum line. Germs overrun your mouth, and your immune system gets the message to attack. That may sound like a good thing, but the skirmish actually damages your gum tissue and causes swelling.
Taking good care of your teeth and gums may help ward off the following life-threatening conditions:
Heart disease. One theory is the same disease causing bacteria that camp out in your mouth move through your bloodstream, eventually forming plaques in your arteries. Yet another idea is that inflammation caused by serious gum disease damages your blood vessel walls.
Stroke. Severe gum disease can raise your risk of stroke by causing plaques to form in your carotid arteries, which supply blood to your brain. Reduced blood flow to the brain caused by a blockage can lead to a stroke.
Diabetes. What comes first diabetes or gum disease? Both these conditions can make the other worse. People with diabetes often experience dry mouth, which allows bacteria to build up and worsen gingivitis. Wounds, including small mouth infections, are also slower to heal for people with diabetes. On the other hand, some mouth infections can make it difficult to control blood sugar.
Runaway infections. While it’s not pleasant to imagine, an untreated infection in your mouth can spread to your bones, muscles, skin, heart – and even your brain. The result can be agonizing pain, severe inflammation, and even death in rare cases. With your immune system running wild, it can unleash its inflammatory chemicals on normal tissue. That’s what happens in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. So much for toughing out a toothache.
Periodontitis. This chronic gum condition may be painless, but it wears away bony sockets and ligaments that hold your teeth in place. People with this highly preventable condition have twice the risk of a heart attack and three times the risk of the stroke.
Not horrified yet? Gum disease may also be connected to pneumonia and mouth cancer. And don’t forget the basic purpose of teeth – to help your eat a wide variety of foods. Studies have shown that people who keep more of their own teeth throughout life, enjoy better nutrition as they age. Poor oral health can be very costly.
Brushing and flossing not only help your teeth and gums – they are the two easiest things you can do to help your heart, brain and the rest of your body. The bacteria that cause gum disease can cause lots of damage. The information that results when your body tries to fight off the infection adds to the problem.
To avoid these major health issues, be sure and brush and floss each day. In Tulsa, make an appointment at Forefront Dentistry to learn more about the association between a healthy mouth and a healthy body.