The phobia keeping people from regular dental care puts their lives at risk. That’s correct! Poor dental health can lead to diseases of the mouth and problems throughout your body. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic asks, “Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health – or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body?”
Your general physician should check your teeth during any wellness exam to detect signs of poor care and lecture you on what those signs reveal. Of course, there are many reasons to seek regular oral treatment. You want to ensure your best cosmetic appearance and avoid the pain accompanying decaying teeth. But, you must also seek treatment to avoid tooth loss, teeth displacement, and periodontal diseases.
10 major consequences of poor dental care
1. Cardiovascular problems
Poor oral health has an indirect impact on your heart health. Research shows oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream where it builds plaque along the inner artery walls, reducing blood flow, and increasing the incidence of heart attack or stroke.
Harvard Medical School agrees, “The bacteria that infect the gums and cause gingivitis and periodontitis also travel to blood vessels elsewhere in the body where they cause blood vessel inflammation and damage; tiny blood clots, heart attack and stroke may follow”. Their research has found evidence “of oral bacteria in atherosclerotic blood vessel far from the mouth”.
There is also a correlation between poor oral care, lack of exercise, smoking, and other poor health practices.
2. Endocarditis risks
Your endocardium lines the inside of your heart, its valves and chambers. Endocarditis is a swelling of the endocardium from inflammation caused by bacteria and fungi you have ingested. Left to multiply, those microbes will irritate the endocardium and may fatally damage the heart and/or heart valves.
A 2009 study reported in JADA (Journal of the American Dental Association), found “oral hygiene and gingival disease indexes were associated significantly with IE-related [Infective Endocarditis] bacteremia after toothbrushing”. Subjects with higher than normal plaque accumulations were at almost five times higher risk of developing the bacterium. And, those bleeding after brushing were almost eight times more likely to transmit the bacterium.
3. Respiratory issues
The gum disease related to poor oral care puts you at risk of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and pneumonia. Research in Critical Care (2009) confirmed, “Potential respiratory pathogens include Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter species and enteric species, all of which can be seen in dental plaque and oral mucosa colonizations; strains of these bacteria have been genetically identical in dental plaque and bronchoscopic cultures from those who have developed respiratory diseases, specifically VAP” (Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia).
4. Cancer risks
A study in Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery (2012) boldly asserts, “The results indicate that periodontal diseases ensuing from inadequate and infrequent tooth brushing as indicated by the poor oral condition of the mouth and missing teeth may be independent causes of cancers of the mouth and esophagus”.
It’s also clear that poor oral conditions make people vulnerable to the transference of HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the cause of several cancers of the gums, tongue and throat. Such problems have led to disciplines in oral oncology training specialists to detect, assess and treat Head and Neck Cancers (HNC). Their work finds poor dental care affects the mouth directly and indirectly, especially when linked to tobacco and alcohol use.
Results include dysphagia, fibrosis, infections, loss of taste, mucositis, soft tissue or bone necrosis, and more. The connection between oral problems and pancreatic cancer poses a real problem for many. Research at NYU (2016) finds statistical evidence of a strong correlation between certain microbes (Porphyromonas gingivalis or Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans) and pancreatic cancer among African-American male participants.
5. Kidney disease
Much of what you take into your mouth reaches your kidneys in the natural course of events. Patients with chronic kidney disease seem predisposed to lesions in the mouth from gingivitis or periodontitis.
Poor dental therapies expose teeth to gum disease, creating lesions as it pulls gums away from teeth. Gum sores, abrasions, and dry lips offer passage to microbial infections the kidneys must then process.
6. Diabetes problems
Diabetes will affect the flow of blood to the gums. Its low blood sugar can dry the gums and reduce saliva which only increases bacteria. It commonly causes thrush which creates mouth sores.
So, diabetics must control their condition to protect their oral health; conversely, good dental practices should moderate diabetes. Considering diabetes causes kidney problems, proper dental care is a crucial preventative measure and therapeutic response.
7. Erectile dysfunction
Poor dental maintenance leaves pockets for bacteria to colonize. The pockets may be in cavities, between teeth, or at the gum line. This provides access to the bloodstream where the germs can inflame the endothelial cells which line the blood vessels.
Those vessels are located throughout the body including the penis. But, since the penis’ vessels are already narrower than other vessels, if they inflame, the blood flow required to support an erection is reduced.
8. Sperm count
A related problem for men lies in a connection between periodontitis and subnormal sperm count. Many recent research studies have shown a strong correlation between periodontal disease with low sperm count, reduced sperm motility, and reduced sperm quality.
Negative sperm issues may correlate with other health issues, advancing age, and genetics. Of men studied in one test, those with gingivitis showed no ED problems, but one-third of those with periodontitis suffered ED-related infertility.
9. Pregnancy problems
Some doctors have connected periodontitis to low birth weight and premature birth. Without regular oral care, pregnant women have suffered from symptoms affecting their mouth.
Pregnancy “tumours” may appear. These are benign lumps forming on swollen gums between teeth. They usually disappear, but they can cause bleeding. Pregnancy also increases the flow of acid to your mouth where it can create tooth decay. Finally, the high levels of progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can contribute to gingivitis and periodontitis. These imbalances can be managed with a standard dental care regimen.
10. Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Porphyromonas gingivalis has appeared in the brains of victims of dementia. When the microbes or by-products reach the brain, they appear to trigger immune system responses which release other chemicals that kill neurons.
Additional risks arise when aging people forget to brush their teeth or forget how. Caregivers are advised to keep up dental maintenance even when patients are unable to care for themselves.
Finally, people with fewer teeth are more likely to mature into dementia. Their history of poor dental care and teeth loss meant the loss of healthy diet and nutrition making victims more vulnerable.
A final lesson
Regular personal dental discipline is required throughout your life. But you also need regular exams by a qualified dental practitioner. For example, Dr Ricarda Prentice, D.D.S. and M.S., a Broomfield orthodontist, recommends starting early and continuing through teen years and adulthood.
Using flossing thread to floss before you brush will loosen the debris and plaque between teeth and above the gumline. You wind a 15 to 18-inch length of floss thread around the middle fingers of each hand until you have about 1.5-inches exposed for use.
Working the floss gently between the teeth, you use a sawing motion to clean between the teeth methodically up to the gum line. You clean between each set of two teeth from the left upper set and moving right to left on your lower set. You can rinse with clear water before brushing.
Using a soft toothbrush, you should brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day within an hour of eating. Most dentists also recommend brushing before bed.
Brushing lightly in circular motions cleans teeth and invigorates gum health. You can use the same brush to scrape the tongue to remove bacteria and improve your breath. Then, flush and rinse with mouthwash.
Healthy teeth may require some lifestyle changes. Smoking and alcohol use can irritate teeth and gums directly and indirectly. If cessation is impossible, moderation should rule the use.
Otherwise, people should moderate their use of soda, tea, and coffee which stain and corrupt tooth enamel. Eating foods high in calcium and with the coarseness of apples and jicama will clean teeth helpfully. You also need plenty of water, lean protein, dairy, and nuts.
Don’t forget your dentist!
There is a tradition of making two yearly visits to your dentist for a check on dental health looking for cavities and teeth alignment. The visits usually include a cleaning. However, you may enjoy dental health allowing only a single annual visit. But, with moderate to poor dental health, you may need a series of appointments involving x-rays, deep cleaning, fillings, braces, or other fixes.
The purpose of good oral health discipline and professional dental advice and treatment is the maintenance and retention of strong aligned teeth understanding how broadly poor dental health affects your overall body health.