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How bad teeth and gums may be a symptom or cause of bigger health problems

How bad teeth and gums may be a symptom or cause of bigger health problems

Poor oral hygiene can lead to more than just bad breath and cavities.

It’s linked to a range of health conditions that can occur all over your body and it’s important for you to be aware of the risks so that you know why maintaining good oral health is so vital.

So what are some of the consequences of poor oral hygiene habits and how can you avoid them?

Heart disease

That’s right, poor oral health has been linked with Australia’s biggest killer: coronary heart disease. In fact, approximately 4.2 million people currently suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and in 2015, CVD was attributed as the cause of death for 45,392 Australians, which is almost 30% of all deaths that occurred in Australia that year. But how is oral hygiene and heart disease linked?

There is actually evidence that the bacteria that forms in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart.

There is actually evidence that the bacteria that forms in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart. This bacteria then collects in the atherosclerotic plaque of the arteries in your heart and elsewhere.

While it’s not fully understood why this happens, there are certain lifestyle risks such as obesity, dietary issues, and smoking that are associated with both heart disease and gum disease.

Lung disease

Periodontitis (gum disease) has also been shown to exacerbate several lung conditions such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This happens, once again, because of bacteria from the mouth finding its way to somewhere that it’s not meant to be. In this case, the lungs.

Diabetes

According to WebMD, the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is the strongest of any of the relationships between gum disease and other health problems. However, gum disease seems to be an effect of diabetes rather than the cause in this case.

Gum disease is more common in people with diabetes because they generally have a lower resistance to infection and a reduced healing capacity. Gum disease is also especially dangerous for people with diabetes as the inflammation in your mouth can wear down your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar and can worsen your diabetic condition.

Stroke

As previously mentioned, bacteria from the mouth can find its way into the bloodstream. One of the major flow on effects of this is stroke. It’s believed that this bacteria can lead to the narrowing of artery walls as well as blood clots.

If you are preparing to undergo a dental treatment for gum disease and you have a pre-existing heart condition, you should warn your dentist, as you may be at risk of a condition called bacterial endocarditis.

So, how can you keep your mouth healthy?

There are many ways you can prevent gum disease and its associated problems. While some of these tips may seem like common sense, it’s important to remember them all.

● Brush your teeth. This should go without saying. Brushing your teeth is the first step in good oral hygiene. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes.
● Floss. While there have been some disputes over the benefits of flossing, removing the remnants of food from between your teeth where a brush typically can’t reach doesn’t hurt.
● Use mouthwash. Mouthwash has the ability to remove debris that a brush otherwise wouldn’t be able to get rid of.
● Rinse your mouth between meals. If you don’t have mouthwash with you, just use water.
● Invest in a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers should be used after you’ve brushed your teeth to remove any bacteria that remains on your tongue.
● Cut down on sugar. Sugary foods can get stuck in your teeth and lead to the development of gingivitis.
● Limit fizzy drinks. Not only are these drinks bad due to their high sugar content but they are also very acidic. Highly acidic drinks can wear down your tooth enamel.

Budget Direct’s health insurance packages include dental cover – ranging from preventative dental care like scaling, cleaning and fluoride treatments to major dental work like orthodontics.

Richard Laycock

Richard Laycock is an Insurance Expert at finder.com.au.

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