Proper oral hygiene helps protect your teeth from decay and cavities and your gums from gingivitis, but the consequences of neglecting teeth care can extend far beyond your mouth. Your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, and without proper dental hygiene to remove the sticky plaque they cause, it can easily lead to other health complications. It's particularly important for people with compromised immune systems due to other health problems or treatments to take proper care of their teeth because they are without a strong immune system to deal with oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream.
Diabetes patients are more likely to suffer from gum disease due to the body's lower resistance to infection. Unhealthy gums can be a major point of entry for infection to spread to other areas, or even the bloodstream. In addition, unhealthy gums make it more difficult to control blood sugar, which can lead to dangerous complications for people who have diabetes.
Poor oral hygiene that leads to gum disease or inflammation increases the risk of bacteria traveling to the arteries in the heart through the bloodstream. This bacteria can cause the arteries to harden, which leads to plaque buildup on the inner walls of the arteries. This decreases blood flow and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Bacteria that enters the blood from damaged gums can also contribute to an infection called endocarditis, which affects the inner lining of the heart.
Dementia might not seem linked to oral health at first glance, but harmful bacteria that enters the bloodstream or nerve channels in the head from damaged or diseased gums can contribute to dementia. Gingivitis bacteria may even contribute to Alzheimer's disease in some people.
When bacteria and plaque build up in the mouth, some of that bacteria can enter the lungs through the respiratory system. Over a long period of time, this bacteria can lead to serious respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Respiratory infections are particularly dangerous for anyone with chronic lung problems and those with compromised immune systems.
Taking proper care of your teeth includes at least twice daily brushing and flossing, avoiding tobacco, eating healthy meals and snacks, and regular visits to your dentist every six months. If you experience tooth pain, gum bleeding, inflammation, or any other signs of dental issues, don't wait until your next scheduled dental appointment. The sooner you see your dentist and address potential problems, the better your mouth—and your overall health—will be for it.
I grew up in a home with parents who did not insist on good dental hygiene. By the time I was old enough to know better, some damage had already been done. I had many cavities, crooked teeth, and some discoloration on my teeth. I knew it would not be easy to take my smile from where it was to where it is today, but I was determined to finally have nice teeth. I visited a dentist who was very nice and never judged me. We made a dental plan together. Spreading the procedures out over time made it much easier to afford them. I now have almost perfect teeth after all that hard work! I created this blog to help others who have dental problems that stem from bad childhood habits know there is hope! It is never too late to start seeing the dentist!