Seven Surprising Ways Oral Hygiene May Affect Your Health

Oral hygiene is about more than preserving a sparkling smile -- it has a direct effect on your health. The mouth harbors an enormous amount of bacteria, and when you fail to brush and floss, that bacteria multiplies and affects your whole body.

A number of health conditions may be linked to decay-causing oral bacteria and gum disease, although more research is needed to confirm some of the connections. Here are a few health issues that may be related to oral hygiene.

Gum disease

Failing to brush and floss leads to gum disease. Plaque accumulates and the associated bacteria infiltrate the gums. Early gum disease, known as gingivitis, causes swelling of your gums and may make them bleed when you do brush or floss.

With time, it progresses to serious gum disease that left unchecked, can lead to gum recession and tooth loss.  

Heart disease

Poor oral hygiene may allow oral bacteria to get into your bloodstream. Researchers believe the bacteria may play a role in the plaques that form inside blood vessels. Plaque buildup in the coronary arteries can cause a heart attack.

Stroke

One kind of stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked, causing the brain to be deprived of oxygen. When your oral hygiene isn’t up to par, the increased bacteria in your body can contribute to the narrowing of arteries through plaque formation, just like in heart disease.

Dementia

Some studies show a connection between specific gum disease bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One small study found that some people with these age-related cognitive decline had strains of oral bacteria in their brains.

Researchers hypothesize that everyday activities, such as eating and certain dental procedures, may allow the bacteria to enter the brain. One theory is that repeated exposure to this bacteria may contribute to the death of nerve cells in the brain, leading to memory loss.

Endocarditis

Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium, which is the inner lining of the heart. When bacteria from your mouth spread through your bloodstream, they can attach to vulnerable areas in the endocardium and create areas of infection.

Endocarditis leads to flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Gone untreated, it can lead to heart problems, kidney damage, and seizures.

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, your oral health is of paramount concern because gum disease and diabetes can become a cycle, where one affects the other. Poor control of blood glucose levels puts you at higher risk for gum disease. In addition, people with diabetes tend to have dry mouth, which contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.

When you have diabetes, you may experience more severe gum disease that takes longer to heal. And if your gums become infected, it can make it harder for you to control your blood glucose.

Respiratory infections

Decay-causing bacteria from your mouth can spread to your lungs, aggravating chronic lung diseases or making you more susceptible to pneumonia. Normal breathing can move bacteria from your teeth and gums into your lungs, where they can colonize the lung tissues.

Good oral hygiene is an easy habit: just brush after meals and floss daily. Visit the office of Nataly Vilderman, DDS at least twice a year for professional cleanings, which can reach areas that aren’t as accessible with a regular toothbrush.

If you already have gum disease, Dr. Vilderman can set up a treatment plan that provides a deep cleaning to reduce the spread of the bacteria to other teeth and throughout your body. Call to make an appointment, or use the convenient online booking tool.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Are Dentures Better Than Implants?

Dentures are a time-tested method of replacing missing teeth and are a viable option for many people. Dental implants are a terrific breakthrough that many patients choose. What about your needs? Are dentures better than implants for you?

How Veneers Can Protect Your teeth

Veneers aren’t solely used for cosmetic corrections or aesthetic appeal. Learn how porcelain veneers can be used in tandem with other dental care options to give you a smile that’s strong as well as brilliant.

Flossing: The Key to Good Dental Hygiene

Your oral hygiene routine is very important. Everyone knows that twice-a-day brushing is a must. But brushing your teeth is only part of having a healthy and clean mouth. Flossing plays a key role in oral health and gives you better breath.

How to Take Care of Your Invisalign® Trays?

So you got your Invisalign® aligners — Now what? Before you pop those trays in, study up on what it takes to get the most out of your Invisalign treatment — namely, taking special care of your trays.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Bleeding gums are not something to ignore. That reddish stain when you brush your teeth could be an indicator of some form of gum disease. Your oral health affects other health factors, too, so avoid complications by seeing your dentist.