The entire dentistry profession is built around improving and maintaining patients’ oral health.
But why is oral health so important? And what happens when you have poor oral health?
What is poor oral hygiene?
To start, it’s best to understand how we define poor oral hygiene.
Poor oral hygiene is when you fail to keep your teeth and gums clean, leading to food debris and bacterial plaque building up on the teeth and below the gum line. As a result, the protective enamel on your teeth can wear down, you can get cavities in your teeth, and you can get gingivitis and/or periodontitis.
Over time, poor oral hygiene can therefore lead to increased discomfort and more dental procedures such as fillings to repair cavities and gum disease treatments. It can also lead to tooth loss.
Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene doesn’t just affect your teeth and gums – it may have a negative impact on the rest of your health as well.
Poor oral health and heart disease
One example of poor oral health being linked to other areas of poor health in the body is heart disease.
Several studies have analysed data from patients and found that there is a moderate connection between tooth loss and cardiovascular disease. This connection is not yet well understood, and it doesn’t mean that poor oral health will always lead to heart disease, but researchers are continuing work to try to find a cause behind the connection.
Poor oral health and diabetes
For people with diabetes, gum disease is the most common mouth problem. In fact, people with diabetes are known to be prone to problems affecting their teeth, gums, and mouth.
We know that gum disease is caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth and below the gum line, and that this occurs when you don’t brush and floss often or well enough.
However, diabetes can weaken your mouth’s defences against germs and worsen the gum disease. Conversely, if you get an infection from gum disease it can make your diabetes harder to manage.
Overall, there is a clear connection between diabetes and gum disease.
Poor oral health and the risk of dementia
As mentioned earlier, gum disease is caused by the build-up of bacteria in the mouth. However, studies have suggested that this same bacteria may also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
One study followed more than 6,000 patients over a long period of time and found that older adults with signs of gum disease and mouth infections were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers highlighted the need for more studies and work in the area as these results are not completely understood, so it is not conclusive whether gum disease leads to dementia or if there is simply an underlying connection between the two.
Maintaining your oral hygiene
Improving and maintaining your oral hygiene might be a daily chore, but it is a vital one. It’s not only important for the long-term health of your teeth and gums, but for your overall health as well.
Brushing and flossing at home are a big part of maintaining your dental hygiene, but it’s also important to visit your dentist at least once per year for a professional exam and check-up. Contact us today to make an appointment or sign up to become a new patient.