Most people know that daily brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. However, practising good oral hygiene is also important to maintain your overall health and wellbeing.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to an overabundance of bad bacteria in the mouth which can consequently cause an array of negative health effects that affect various systems in the body. Read on to learn more about the connection between your oral health and your immune system.
Individuals who do not brush or floss their teeth regularly increase their chances of plaque and tartar build-up, leading to the onset of gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis are characterised by swollen, dark red or bleeding gums, bad breath, receding gums, and gums that are tender to the touch or overly sensitive.
The plaque and tartar build-up that causes gingivitis irritates the gums, creating spaces between your teeth that fill with tartar and bacteria. As these spaces deepen and collect more plaque, the body responds by sending white blood cells to fight the infection. This response causes inflammation to form.
The infection is called periodontitis and it is a serious oral health issue that can ravage healthy tissue and ultimately result in tooth loss and jawbone complications. The chronic inflammation caused by periodontitis can put a serious strain on an immune system, leading to other, more complex health problems.
- Heart Disease
If left untreated, gingivitis and periodontitis cause gums to recede. This not only allows teeth to shift and become loose, but it also forms gaps between and around teeth. These gaps become entryway points for the bacteria living in the mouth and on the teeth to enter the bloodstream.
Once the bacteria enter the body through these gaps, it travels through the bloodstream to the heart, finally becoming attached to the valves of the heart. This extended exposure can cause permanent damage to the lining of the heart called endocarditis.
Endocarditis can lead to potentially fatal complications such as causing severe damage to heart valves that may require surgery to repair. Maintaining your oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist in Maidstone is important to ensure good oral health.
Good oral hygiene is important for everyone, but those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of contracting gum disease. The higher blood sugar levels in diabetes patients can lead to the body creating more sugar in saliva. This effect creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
This bacteria produces extra acids in the mouth which, in turn, attacks tooth enamel and damages gums. As gum disease progresses, it inhibits immune function so controlling blood sugar levels becomes increasingly more difficult.
Individuals with diabetes should check their blood sugar levels and give up habitual smoking. Smoking increases the time the body needs to heal which also increases the time the body is exposed to infection.
- Preterm Birth
Researchers have conducted studies on how pregnancy affects oral health. During these studies, researchers found that pregnant women with untreated gingivitis, tooth decay, fillings, and cavities generally have a higher incidence of early birth rates, otherwise known as preterm labour.
Due to natural hormonal changes during pregnancy, women can find it more difficult to maintain good oral health practices. This leaves them more vulnerable to plaque and tartar build-up. Generally, this is regarded as pregnancy gingivitis or pregnancy gum disease and can be avoided with regular visits to a dentist and avoiding carbonated drinks and smoking.
The inflammation caused by gum disease during pregnancy releases bacteria and toxins into the body. Researchers believe these toxins travel to the bloodstream and by doing so affect the placenta and fetus. Testing has confirmed that toxins found in infected gums are also present in amniotic fluid.
While everyone acknowledges the immediate dangers of not taking care of their teeth are cavities and tooth decay, it is important to understand there are deeper issues at stake. Daily brushing, flossing and seeing a dentist regularly not only provides good oral health support but also plays a vital role in maintaining overall positive health and wellbeing.
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