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Bad Teeth May Cause Serious Health Problems

Everyone wants a friendly smile, and perfect teeth make that so much easier to achieve. But the impact of bad teeth on your life goes far beyond aesthetics. A less-than-perfect smile could contribute to a number of overall health risks. Some of the problems associated with crooked and damaged teeth are preventable, while 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" on account of cavities, neglect or gum problems. Each of those problems could have an effect on your health. Misaligned teeth, also known as malocclusion, like an over or underbite, could lead to the following health issues:

  • Excessive wear on certain areas of the teeth
  • Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) that could 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 problems.

While many of these outcomes can be prevented with timely care, oral conditions, such as gum problems and dental caries, can lead to other medical issues.

Conditions Related to Poor Dental Health

An unhealthy mouth, regardless of the cause, could trigger problems like gum or periodontal disease, gum problems, tooth loss, mouth sores and a build-up of plaque. All of these issues introduce germs into your mouth, which can affect your entire body and lead to serious medical conditions, such as:

  • Respiratory infections. Patients with dental caries and periodontal disease constantly breathe in germs from tooth cavities and problematic 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 creates a "two-way street", with diabetes sufferers having an increased risk of gum problems due to a compromised immune system that makes them more susceptible to bacterial infections. At the same time, a patient with severe gum problems could 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.

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 overall body health.