When you think of dental health, you probably think about having fresh breath, straight teeth, and avoiding cavities. While part of dental health, improper or minimalistic dental habits can also affect your body. Why? Because the mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to form, and your throat and sinuses are very vascular. This means that an unhealthy mouth can spread bacteria throughout the entire body. So, dental health directly impacts heart health, as well as other bodily wellness. Bacteria may first turn into gingivitis, and if left untreated, become periodontitis. The bacteria’s toxic byproducts travel into the bloodstream.
Health and its Connection Dental Health
Researchers have found the sticky bacteria that causes periodontal disease also forms another type of plaque made of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other components of blood. This plaque builds up in the arteries. It is referred to as atherosclerosis and is a sign of coronary artery disease. People who have periodontal disease (a.k.a. gum disease) have as much as 3x greater risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem. If gum disease is paired with unhealthy eating habits or smoking, the risk increases.
Gum disease bacteria can move from the mouth via the throat and result in aspiration pneumonia, or even lung infection. While this is more prevalent in people who are hospitalized for extended periods or adults in nursing homes, it is no less concerning.
Of the many studies to track the link between dental health and overall body health, the strongest link is between periodontal disease and diabetes. Studies have found that gum disease increases the risk for diabetes, and vice versa. The correlation is not fully understood. However, evidence shows that gum disease affects the body’s ability to signal and respond to insulin. A recent study has also found that treating periodontal disease lowered overall health costs by 12-14%.
A 2019 CDC study found that mothers who have periodontal disease have a higher risk of premature birth and babies with a low birth weight. In an earlier study, researchers discovered that oral bacteria can flow to the placenta and cause chorioamnionitis, a serious infection that affects amniotic fluid. The oral bacteria can also cause inflammation in the womb which then affects the fetal tissues and placenta.
Periodontal disease causes several other health concerns. These include dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, certain types of cancers, kidney disease, and even fertility issues.
Keep in mind that the best way to minimize risk of heart disease and other health concerns stemming from periodontal disease is to prevent the occurrence of gum disease. Preventative actions such as brushing at least twice daily, flossing, and regular dental checkups will make a significant difference. Also, if you frequently take antibiotics, you may want to look into antibiotic therapy.
If you are concerned about gum disease or have other dental health concerns or questions, please be sure to talk to Middletown Dental. We will be happy to answer your questions and suggests steps you can take to improve your dental health.