Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for overall health, as gum disease has been linked to various health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. To manage the risk, it’s important to follow classic dental care advice such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily.
Many studies suggest that poor oral health can have negative effects on overall health. One of the most well-established links is between periodontal disease and diabetes. The two conditions have a two-way relationship, meaning that periodontal disease increases the risk for diabetes, and vice versa.
Inhaling large amounts of mouth bacteria can result in bacterial aspiration pneumonia, particularly in hospitalized patients and older adults in nursing homes. Regular dental care such as professional teeth cleanings or periodontal treatments like antibiotic therapy can lower the risk of developing this type of pneumonia.
Periodontitis is linked with heart attack, stroke, plaque buildup in the arteries, and other cardiovascular conditions. Poor oral health may lead to worse heart health because periodontal bacteria from the mouth may travel to the arteries in vascular disease patients, potentially playing a role in the development of the disease. Better oral hygiene practices are linked with lower rates of heart disease.
Severe periodontal disease is associated with preterm, low birth weight babies, and more research is needed to confirm the link. Treating periodontal disease during pregnancy improved birth weight and reduced the risk of preterm birth and the death of the fetus or newborn.
Researchers are increasingly interested in the role of oral health in dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. Oral bacteria, especially those related to periodontitis, could affect the brain directly via infection of the central nervous system or indirectly by inducing chronic systemic inflammation that reaches the brain. However, periodontal disease is just one risk factor among many for people who are predisposed to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Oral bacteria have also been linked to other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney and liver disease, as well as colorectal and breast cancers. However, more research is needed to confirm these links, and it is still uncertain whether regular dental care and periodontal treatments may help prevent or improve these conditions.
Maintaining good oral health is essential for overall health. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing every day is crucial. Being proactive about oral health is just as important as being proactive about exercise or diet.