We’ve been told by our parents, health educators, and dentists for as long as we can remember, “brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day.” Many people believe that we brush and floss to keep our teeth white and our breath smelling fresh. However, as science and research have improved, it is shown that our mouth could affect our overall health in ways many might not have been aware of. From our heart health to our lungs to an unborn baby, your oral health can affect so much more than just your gums and teeth.
Bacteria Filled Mouths and Your Health
Our mouths are full of bacteria and when we are brushing our teeth regularly, these bacteria stay at a reasonable level. However, when we stop brushing regularly, the bacteria can cause not only problems in our mouth but the rest of our body.
For starters, brushing our teeth on a regular basis can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. There is recent research that shows that bacteria from plaque can play a role in blocking arteries. This happens when the plaque from your teeth is dislodged from the mouth and enters the bloodstream. When the arteries get blocked, these events can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Bacteria from our mouths can also enter our heart from our mouths, and this can lead to endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or the valves. Antibiotics can sometimes cure the infection but surgery could be required in the worse cases.
Gum disease can also make infections in the mouth worse for those who have diabetes. Gum disease can make it hard for the body to absorb insulin medications, and this can lower the blood sugar of the patient, causing diabetic issues to arise. Bacteria in the mouth can also cause pneumonia because when you breathe, these bacteria can enter your lungs causing infection to grow. In those with immune-compromised systems, pneumonia can cause hospitalization.
Pregnancy and Mouth Health
Those who are pregnant should take extra care to ensure proper mouth health. The increase in pregnancy hormones can cause preexisting dental conditions to become much worse and can leave mom-to-be with an increased risk of cavities. Gum disease can also lead to the baby being born prematurely or with a low birth rate. Oral health care during pregnancy is essential for not only mom’s health but babies too.
It is recommended that you see a dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. If you have oral health problems, it is recommended that you visit even more frequently, as often as every other month. Brushing your teeth is essential to maintain the health of our mouths. However, if the bacteria in your mouth reach uncontrollable levels, then this can lead to other health issues in our lives. Simply brushing your teeth and seeing the dentist on a regular basis can go a long way in protecting your health.