What your teeth and gums say about youMost people think that the worst possible consequence of neglecting oral health is having to suffer through painful dental treatment. After all, the effects of poor dental hygiene are limited to your mouth, right? Wrong.
There's mounting evidence connecting common oral health problems like gum disease to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. The evidence in most cases is not conclusive, and more studies are needed to link dental problems with these diseases, but there definitely seems to be some kind of relationship between the state of your mouth and the state of your general health.
For instance, gum disease is being increasingly linked to a large number of health problems. Gum disease is nothing, but infection caused by bacteria that accumulates in pockets between your gums and teeth. The simple act of brushing your teeth can push these bacteria into your blood stream, through which they are transferred to other organs. The bacteria settle in these organs, and trigger off new infections. Many times, a person is not even aware he has diabetes until his dentist advises him to get his blood sugar levels checked. Patients who suffer from consistent oral abscesses may have a blood sugar problem that they are not even aware of. So, when a dentist notices these abscesses, it might indicate that the patient needs to take a diabetes detection test if he hasnít already taken one.
Gum diseases in diabetes patients can get very difficult to control. Thatís because these people have difficulty handling infections of any kind. Infections increase blood sugar, and it can be a vicious cycle where the diabetes causes the gum disease, and the gum disease in turn, impacts the diabetes. A person who has difficulty controlling his blood sugar levels can find it hard to treat gum disease. In fact, taking care of your teeth with the help of regular visits to a dentist, is a part of good diabetes care program. Also, people who are highly at risk for diabetes, but have not yet developed the disease can find that gum disease can accelerate the onset of diabetes. Studies conducted on animals have shown that rats who were pre-diabetic and suffered from gum disease were likely to develop diabetes faster than rats who were also pre-diabetic but didnít suffer from gum disease.
Dental health and cardiac health
People who suffer from chronic periodontal disease have a risk of coronary artery disease thatís twice as high as people who have no history of periodontal disease. There is still not enough evidence to prove this conclusively, and there are other factors like the personís weight, genetics and lifestyle that can impact the development of heart problems, more than periodontal disease. According to proponents of the theory, bacteria from the mouth can attach themselves to plaque formations in coronary arteries, thereby contributing to the development of clots in the arteries.
Dental health and birth issues
Gum and dental infections can trigger off premature delivery in pregnant women, and also result in the birth of babies with low birth weight. Some research at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry have found a link between chronic and severe periodontal disease in a pregnant woman, and a high risk of premature delivery. Studies have also linked the treatment of gum disease in pregnant women to a reduced risk of premature birth.
Dental health and osteoporosis
The connection between dental health and osteoporosis is easier to understand because osteoporosis is caused by the same loss of bone density that is also responsible for weak and unhealthy teeth. Studies suggest a link between weak and unstable teeth, and the development of osteoporosis.
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