The relationship between your mouth and your body is a two-way street. In other words, a body in poor health can cause symptoms in the mouth, and likewise compromised oral health can lead to certain medical conditions. In the past five to ten years, research has continued to reveal this strong mouth and body connection. One recent study reported that people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.
If you are not taking care of your teeth and gums, your risk is beyond tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. An unhealthy mouth, specifically those with long-term gum disease, can also increase your risk for serious health problems such as poorly controlled diabetes, heart attack and preterm labor.
Diabetes: Diabetics can already have a more challenging time warding off gum disease. However, research shows that chronic gum disease can further disrupt blood sugar control because it is an infection that causes insulin resistance.
Cardiovascular Disease: If you have inflammation in your mouth, due to bacteria (gingivitis), you are also at risk for inflammation throughout your body – which can lead to clogged arteries and blood clots. This inflammation may serve as a base for development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. The more severe your gum infection, the more vulnerable you become to these associated heart problems.
Preterm birth: Pregnant women have a very good reason to be on guard against gum disease. Severe gum disease is shown to increase the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that as many as 18% of preterm, low birth weight babies born in the United States each year may be attributed to oral infections in the mother. The toxins that oral infections release can reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream and disrupt the growth and development of the fetus. In addition, an oral infection can trigger the mother to produce labor-inducing hormones quickly.
It is clear that fighting gum disease brings profound advantages to your health. Gum disease is best prevented by brushing and flossing daily and by visiting your dentist every six months for a checkup. Consider the time, money and effort that you spend in taking care of your teeth as a valuable investment for your current and future overall health.