Many people focus on cosmetic dentistry, remaining unaware that oral health is capable of influencing general well-being in addition to appearance. Consequently, taking good care of your teeth can reduce your risk of developing certain health problems, while failing to brush your teeth or attend regular dental checkups can cause systemic problems.
The condition of your teeth and gums can have an impact on your cardiovascular health. Firstly, there is a clear connection between gum disease and heart disease, though it is as yet unclear why this link exists. Some experts theorize that oral inflammation increases blood vessel inflammation, heightening risk of heart attacks and strokes. Secondly, if you have heart valve disease (or a prosthetic valve), failing to pay attention to your dental health makes you more likely to eventually need dental surgery, which in turn carries a increased risk of bacteria entering the blood stream and causing a life-threatening heart infection called endocarditis. If you visit your dentist regularly, problems are more likely to be noticed before surgery is necessary.
It is speculated that mouth inflammation resulting from gum disease inhibits the body’s ability to keep blood sugar levels under control, potentially worsening cases of diabetes (who already have problems processing sugar). To make matters worse, diabetes makes you more likely to suffer from oral infections, which then worsen blood sugar control and create a vicious circle.
The spread of oral cancer
Poor oral health is one of the risk factors for future oral cancers, and such cancers are capable of spreading to many other areas of the body. It is particularly likely to invade other nearby tissue (such as the skin and jaw) or to move through the lymphatic system. A huge number of oral cancers are originally spotted at family dentistry practices during standard checkups, as a dentist can see every area of the mouth and will notice unusual lesions or discolored patches. As a result, regular checkups could end up saving your life.
Interesting research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suggests that untreated periodontal disease can make COPD worse. There is also evidence that those suffering from periodontal disease and more likely to develop pneumonia following an infection.
Jaw joint inflammation
Bruxism (or grinding the teeth) is a common problem, and you can end up in chronic pain if you don’t obtain a customized mouth guard to reduce the impact. The influence of bruxism is surprisingly widespread, causing everything from daily headaches to pain in the jaw and ear.
Finally, there is a plausible connection between poor oral health and an increased likelihood of giving birth to a pre-term baby with a low birth weight. Being born early or at a low birth weight carries a higher risk of everything from birth abnormalities to developmental delays, so it is clearly vital for pregnant women to be diligent about caring for the teeth and gums.