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Oral Health Buzz

How Poor Dental Care Can Affect Your Overall Health

Willie Pena

Although you probably understand that poor dental care can lead to cavities, did you know that other, more serious health problems can also result from poor oral care? The truth is that if you don't take proper care of your teeth, you could face far more serious consequences than a simple toothache or some unsightly stains.

The Mayo Clinic, as well as a report from ABC News, highlight some major areas of concern:

  • Cardiovascular disease: In a nutshell, this means heart disease. The bacteria from inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart and cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis causes plaque to develop on the inner walls of arteries which thicken and this decreases or may block blood flow through the body. This can cause an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The inner lining of the heart can also become infected and inflamed ��� a condition known as endocarditis.
  • Dementia: The bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels in the head or through the bloodstream, that might even lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Respiratory infections: The Journal of Periodontology warns that gum disease could cause you to get infections in your lungs, including pneumonia. While the connection might not be completely obvious at first, think of what might happen from breathing in bacteria from infected teeth and gums over a long period of time.
  • Diabetic complications: Inflammation of the gum tissue and periodontal disease can make it harder to control your blood sugar and make your diabetes symptoms worse. Diabetes sufferers are also more susceptible to periodontal disease, making proper dental care even more important for those with this disease.

As you can see, brushing and flossing keep more than your pearly whites healthy -- they might also prevent serious illnesses. Poor dental care is also a possible factor in other conditions, such as immune system disorders, weak bones, and problems with pregnancy and low birth weight.

Establish Good Hygiene Habits

The message is clear: Practicing proper dental care is important in many ways you might not have thought of before. Encourage your family to practice good oral hygiene by brushing after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and using a mouth rinse to kill bacteria. You should also visit a dental professional regularly for cleanings and the prevention and treatment of cavities. Doing so can protect more than just your teeth -- it can save your life!

Learn more about maintaining dental health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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