Your Teeth and Your Health
Taking care of your teeth and gums is about more than having a movie-star smile. Your mouth is a window to your overall health, because over 100 diseases show symptoms in the oral cavity. Although old ideas about this concept figured that the correlation between periodontal disease and overall health stemmed from patient attitudes towards personal wellness, new research has shown that the link may actually be due to the spread of bacteria throughout the body.
Poor dental health can be the cause of many problems, including diabetes, circulatory system problems, and cancer. Contact Dr. Pounds today to improve your teeth and your overall health.Request an Appointment
How Oral Bacteria Damages Your Body
Failure to brush, floss, and rinse properly allows bacteria to grow inside of your mouth. Over time, these bacteria collect along the gum line, move underneath gum tissue, and start attacking your periodontal ligaments and bone tissue, leading to periodontal disease. Unfortunately, bacteria can also leach into the vascular tissue around the jawbone and teeth, and then spread throughout your entire body promoting inflammation.
In addition to sparking inflammatory responses throughout your body, these newly introduced bacteria can also spread infection, injure the cells of the body, spread microbial toxins, and cause immunological injuries that can damage your ability to fight off new threats.
Diseases Tied to Poor Oral Health
The dangers of oral bacteria are very real, and research has clearly tied multiple serious systemic diseases to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Here are just a few.
Circulatory System Problems
The kinds of bacteria that spread through your body when you have gingivitis or periodontitis are especially hard on your heart. Serious, life-threatening diseases like infective endocarditis, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and even heart attacks have been linked to periodontal disease. A study from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that patients who had gum disease were more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack and a staggering three times as likely to suffer from a stroke.
Unfortunately, those same bacteria can also damage your lungs, which is why people with gingivitis and periodontal disease are more likely to come down with bacterial pneumonia.
Low Birth Weight
Gum disease has also been linked to premature birth and low-birthweight babies. In fact, one study showed that women with periodontal disease were seven times more likely to give birth to pre-term babies than people who had healthy gums, and that those babies weighed an average of 5.5 pounds. Researchers suspect that as many as 18% of preterm babies in the United States are born early because of their mothers' periodontal disease.
Believe it or not, periodontal disease has even been tied to certain types of cancer. Researchers suspect that this link is caused by the stress periodontal disease places on the immune system. Patients with periodontal disease are 30% more likely to develop blood cancers like leukemia and 54% more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Because oral bacteria feed off of oral sugars, there is a direct correlation between diabetes control and proper oral healthcare. Patients with diabetes are more likely to have severe periodontal disease, and people with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from problems controlling their blood sugar.
Poor oral health is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Start Taking Better Care of Your Teeth Today!
Fortunately, you don’t have to fall victim to periodontal disease or the havoc that it can wreak on your body. Schedule your next checkup with Dr. Pounds to see how much of a difference dentistry in Pittsburgh can make.