Research has discovered that there is a strong link between your oral health and your risk of many chronic diseases.
Poor oral health allows an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can lead to an infection of your gums called periodontitis. The inflamed tissues allow bacteria to pass into your blood. The bacteria can attach to the lining of your arteries and form plaques, which can lead to blockages that increase your risk of strokes and heart attacks. People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease compared to those don't have periodontitis. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis.
Bacteria can also get into your brain through your blood or cranial nerves and build plaques there too, raising the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One study that followed 118 nuns between the ages of 75 and 98 found that those with the fewest teeth were most likely to suffer dementia.
One of the strongest connections between poor oral health and disease is with diabetes. Each condition contributes to the other. Diabetes increases the risk of infections of your gums, and infections in the gums worsen symptoms of diabetes, especially blood sugar control.
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Women with osteoporosis have gum disease more often than those that don’t. Researchers believe that inflammation triggered by periodontitis might also weaken bones in other parts of the body.
Periodontal disease may make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse, possibly by increasing the amount of bacteria in the lungs.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of periodontitis. Treatment is very important because it has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
The best way to protect your oral health is to practice good oral hygiene every day.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss daily
- Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
- Schedule regular dental checkups.