Everyone wants a friendly smile, and perfect teeth make it so much easier to achieve. The impact of bad teeth on your life goes far beyond the issue of appearance. A less-than-perfect smile may contribute to a number of overall health risks. Some of the problems associated with crooked and damaged teeth are preventable and others can be managed with orthodontic procedures.
In all cases, good oral hygiene and taking care of your teeth help prevent serious health problems, but what happens when you have poor dental health?
How Crooked Teeth Can Affect Your Health
There's a difference between crooked teeth and teeth that are "bad" because of decay, neglect or gum disease. Each of those problems may have an effect on your health. Misaligned teeth, also known as malocclusion, like an over or underbite, may lead to the following health issues:
- Excessive wear on certain areas of the teeth
- Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) that may result in headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorders that can cause strain on the jaws, teeth and facial muscles
- Difficulty brushing and flossing, resulting in dental caries and gum disease
While many of these outcomes can be prevented with timely care, oral conditions, such as gum disease and dental caries, can lead to other medical issues.
Conditions Related to Poor Dental Health
An unhealthy mouth, regardless of the cause, may include problems like gum or periodontal disease, gingivitis, tooth loss, mouth sores and a buildup of plaque. These all result in the presence of bacteria in your mouth, which can affect your entire body and result in serious medical conditions such as:
- Respiratory infections. Patients with dental caries and periodontal disease constantly breathe in bacteria from decayed teeth and infected gums, and over time this can lead to respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and pulmonary diseases such as COPD, according to a study in the Journal of Periodontology.
- Diabetes. This condition results in a "two-way street," with diabetes sufferers having an increased risk of gum disease due to a compromised immune system that makes them more susceptible to bacterial infections. At the same time, a patient with severe gum disease may have a stronger chance of developing diabetes, because efficient blood sugar control becomes more challenging.
- Dementia. It may sound surprising, but there's even a link between dementia and oral health. A report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows a correlation between tooth loss in seniors and poor performance in memory and walking speed.
The risks presented by poor dental health make it imperative to maintain a healthy mouth. If you have crooked teeth or a bad bite, it may be worth your while to consider orthodontic treatment to correct the problem. For other types of bad teeth, oral hygiene is paramount. Brush and floss daily to keep your mouth clean, and protect and soothe sore gums with regular use of an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Colgate Total® Mouthwash for Gum Health, which kills 99 percent of germs on contact.
Keep your mouth healthy and take care of your teeth throughout your life, and you'll reap the long-term benefits in the form of a pain-free mouth and whole body health.