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How Dental Hygiene Impacts Overall Health

Updated on May 11, 2015

Any Infection Impacts the Body

Anyone who has suffered a severe toothache knows how it can ruin the entire day. Yet, a whopping 25% of Americans avoid dentist visits due to fear, says the American Dental Association, according to a news report on ABC News. What we don’t realize most of the times is that the health of our mouth, teeth and gums plays a large role in our overall well being.

Not only is oral health key to enjoying food or a good conversation, it also works wonders on self esteem. And infection anywhere in the body, including the teeth and gums, will cause our entire immune system to gear into fight mode, which will impact the rest of the body. For instance, severe periodontitis or gum disease leads to inflammation that has an impact on the whole body.


Connection Between Oral Health and Other Diseases

Research has proven that neglecting dental hygiene can lead to much more than simply bad breath and rotting teeth.

On the other hand, awareness of oral hygiene and some simple precautions can save the body from several health risks.

Risk of Heart Disease

According to a study published by the American Academy of Periodontology, researchers have discovered that people who have a history of periodontal disease could be twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those who have never suffered periodontitis. The reason for this is that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream and carry the infection right up to the heart or even lungs. In fact, endocarditis, an infection that affects the endocardium or inner lining of the heart is usually caused by bacteria entering the blood stream from other parts of the body, such as the mouth.

Respiratory Disease Risk

A study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, revealed the link between gum disease and pulmonary or lung diseases. In the same way that the bacteria can reach the heart once they enter the blood stream, they can also get carried to the other parts of the body, including the lungs.

Risk of Diabetes

Another study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed a link between periodontal disease and the progression towards diabetes, especially in prediabetics. Research has also demonstrated that people with gum disease find it more difficult than those without such disease to control their blood sugar levels.

Link Between Oral Hygiene and Diabetes


Pregnancy & Low Birth Weight

Not only has poor dental hygiene being linked to an increase in the time to get pregnant, it has also been linked to premature delivery and low birth weight in children of mothers with gum disease. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed a link between the use of a non-alcohol based antimicrobial mouth wash and decrease in the rate of premature deliveries among pregnant women. Another study showed a link between gum disease and premature birth.

Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

While studies have linked tooth loss before 35 years of age to increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed a link between loss of teeth before the age of 35 and an increased risk of dementia. Although how tooth loss affects the later development of Alzheimer’s and dementia is yet to be discovered, the correlation has definitely been proven through scientific research.


Early Treatment is Important

Needless to say then that it is vital to keep a check on dental hygiene and oral health, and regular dentist visits are the best way to ensure this. Routine care and regular evaluation are critical to early detection. And, early detection and treatment of dental problems is the only way to ensure the well-being of the entire body.


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