If the possibility of losing your teeth provides you with some amount of motivation to keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine at home, we have even more motivation for you: numerous studies have shown that your oral health is closely linked to your overall health. In other words, if you stop taking care of your teeth and gums, you could suffer much worse consequences than simply losing your teeth. Here are some of the conditions that have been linked to poor oral health.
- Heart disease: Put very simply, if you develop gum disease, that same bacteria that lives inside your mouth can easily enter your bloodstream, flow to your heart, and cause hardening of the arteries. And that increases your risk for heart attack or stroke.
- Diabetes: You may or may not know that diabetes is an inflammatory disease, and so is periodontal (gum) disease. When your gums are inflamed, it’s more difficult to control your blood sugar levels, which worsens diabetes symptoms. If you currently have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for developing gum disease as well.
- Respiratory infections: Once again, gum disease is the culprit. People with periodontal disease run a higher risk of developing infections in the lungs, thought to be caused by breathing in bacteria from infected gums and teeth over an extended period of time.
- Dementia: Just as bacteria from your gums and teeth can enter your bloodstream and affect your heart, it can also reach your brain through either the bloodstream or nerve channels.
Researchers believe that this increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Now for the good news. You can help to reduce your risks of developing these serious health issues by achieving and maintaining good oral health. That goal is easier than you may think. It simply requires you to keep up a daily oral hygiene routine at home that involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. If you are at greater risk for developing gum disease, you’ll want to add extra steps to your hygiene routine, such as using a water flosser device and/or an anti-microbial mouthwash. And, of course, you’ll need to visit your dentist twice a year for regular oral exams and professional cleanings.
If you’re looking for more motivation to work towards having healthy teeth and gums, look no further than your overall health and well-being. As it turns out, they’re much more closely connected than you may have thought.