Most people know that if they want to maintain a beautiful smile, they have to take care of their teeth. Many don’t realize, however, the significant role your oral health plays in determining your overall physical state. When dental problems arise, it can create pain or detract from your appearance – but it can also compromise your well-being
There is more to dental hygiene than keeping your teeth clean. Problematic symptoms in the gums, including bleeding, swelling, and irritation, are caused by a condition that is medically referred to as periodontal disease and more commonly known as gum disease. The milder form of this condition, known as gingivitis, can advance to the more severe periodontitis. This may eventually lead to tooth loss as gums recede and tissue and bone in the mouth are damaged. This inflammatory condition is chronic, and is caused by a bacterial imbalance in the mouth. Many would be surprised to learn that it is this sixth most common chronic illness in the world, affecting half of all U.S. adults.
Gum disease’s effects are by far not limited to the mouth. This condition is a strong predictor of kidney disease in certain populations, and is also linked with stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Excessive inflammation is the common link in all of these ailments. While the American Heart Association has not acknowledged a causal link between gum problems and cardiovascular disorders, it does recognize the correlation that exists between them.
One theory being tested by current research is that harmful bacteria that proliferate in the mouth can migrate to other organs, resulting in a spread of chronic inflammation and paving the way for disease to take hold. Some studies have demonstrated a link between the treatment of periodontal disease and a reduction in the risk of stroke. Others have demonstrated that bacteria that originate in the mouth can travel the short distance to the brain, possibly explaining the deterioration and dementia associated with Alzheimer’s.
Gum Problems and Pregnancy
Pregnant women are advised to pay particular attention to their oral health in order to give their unborn babies the best chance at healthy development. Poor oral hygiene is associated strongly with pre-term birth and lower-than-average birth weights. Both of these factors can result in a long-term negative impact on children’s development.
Oral Health, Overall Health
For those who wish to stay healthy and fit, taking care of their teeth and gums should be as routine as daily exercise. With consistently attentive habits such as flossing daily and brushing each morning and night, individuals can maintain their well-being and their gleaming set of choppers.