How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health
Proper brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist are important to protect your teeth from general decay and staining over time. However, maintaining proper oral hygiene affects far more than your pearly whites — good oral hygiene can also help protect your gum health and even your overall health.
How Good Oral Hygiene Practices Protect Your Gums
Taking proper care of your teeth helps prevent bacteria from building up in your mouth. Bacteria buildup on your teeth can make your gums prone to serious infection. Such infection can lead to inflammation of the gums and, if not treated correctly, can cause severe periodontal (gum) disease.
More About Periodontal Disease
The root cause of periodontal disease is plaque buildup around the teeth that gradually spreads under the gum line. Periodontal disease ranges from early-stage gingivitis, which is characterized by gum inflammation, to advanced-stage periodontitis, which often occurs when gingivitis is left untreated.
Advanced periodontal disease, or periodontitis, causes the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets. These pockets can become infected with collected debris and encourage plaque to settle in and grow beneath the gum line. As it progresses, periodontal disease damages the supporting tissue around the tooth, which can lead to loose teeth that eventually fall out. Furthermore, certain chemicals released by the body’s own immune system actually accelerate this process.
Why Does it Matter?
Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your teeth. If left untreated, oral bacteria can enter the blood stream and cause serious harm to your general health. These bacteria, along with certain chemicals released by the immune system in an attempt to fight off infection, circulate through the blood stream and can cause conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
In fact, up to 91 percent of patients with heart disease have been shown to also have periodontitis. Gum inflammation can cause inflammation of the blood vessels as well. This restricts blood flowing through the heart and the rest of the body, which raises blood pressure and often causes heart disease.
Periodontitis and oral inflammation have also been shown to weaken the body’s natural ability to control blood sugar. For people with diabetes, this greatly complicates management of the condition. Inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. Thankfully, managing one condition can help bring the other under control.
|Protecting Your Pearly Whites|
|Brushing your teeth correctly is an instrumental part of your oral health. Proper care can help prevent tooth decay, cavities, yellowing, gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) and more. Ensure you are brushing your teeth correctly and protecting your pearly whites by using the following steps.
Most dentists recommend brushing your teeth for a total of two minutes each time you brush, and, as always, remember to floss!