How Can Poor Oral Health Affect the Rest of the Body?

a picture of three sad faced decayed teeth in the gums

Did you know that neglecting your oral health can cause damage to the rest of your body? Most of us believe that brushing our teeth every day, and flossing occasionally, are enough to fight off oral health problems. Well, not necessarily.

Brushing twice a day, flossing once, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and visiting Dr. Gleave for six-month checkups and cleanings are just the basics of oral health maintenance. If you aren’t practicing these habits, you are at a much higher risk for dental and overall health issues. Contact us to schedule a dental checkup.

So what happens if you have a cavity, crack, or infected tooth that isn’t treated? What happens if you don’t address tender, swollen gums? You could develop these conditions, which are all related to poor oral health.

1.      Heart Disease

Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is caused by bacteria in the gums. If those bacteria move into your bloodstream, you could experience hardening of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis. Your risk for heart attack and stroke, hypertension, and endocarditis will increase, as well.

Gum disease symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender, bleeding gums
  • Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
  • Pus at the gum line
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Constant bad breath

2.      Respiratory Problems

When bad bacteria build up in the mouth, they can be breathed into the lungs or enter into the bloodstream. This can lead to respiratory issues, such as:

  • Infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Acute bronchitis
  • COPD

3.      Rheumatoid Arthritis

If your gums are swollen because of the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, the same bacteria can cause inflammation throughout your body. When this happens, you are four times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, according to National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.

4.      Dementia

In a recent study of 547 men, researchers concluded that:

“Risk of cognitive decline in older men increases as more teeth are lost. Periodontal disease and caries, major reasons for tooth loss, are also related to cognitive decline.”

Other studies have found evidence that the bacteria found in periodontitis are also located in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

Good oral hygiene habits help prevent periodontitis and drastically lower your risk of developing these neurological conditions.

5.      Pregnancy and Infertility Issues

Good oral habits are especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. Because of hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, periodontal disease is likely to develop. Left untreated, gum disease can contribute to the risk of premature birth and low infant birth weight.  

A woman with poor oral health is also more likely to have a tough time conceiving than a woman with a healthy mouth.

Practice a good, daily oral health routine at home and visit Dr. Gleave regularly to safeguard your mouth and promote a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

Visit Your SLC Dentist Today

Dr. Gleave’s highest priority is to treat and prevent dental issues in his patients through gentle, personalized care. If you are experiencing symptoms of oral health problems, don’t hesitate to contact our office today to get the help you need. Call 801-747-8531 today to schedule an appointment.

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