Why neglecting your teeth can be really bad for your health
as daily rituals go, it’s right up there along with getting dressed every morning. Whether you brush your teeth to avoid getting cavities or really bad breath, a clean, bright smile is a definite social necessity, yet a quarter of aussies don’t brush the recommended two times a day, and one in 10 regularly forget to brush altogether. Painful trips to the dentist and many missing teeth are the obvious consequences. But what about heart disease, diabetes or cancer?
The idea that bacteria or inflammatory chemicals get released by immune cells in peoples gums and can enter the bloodstream and influence the behaviour of tissues or organs is known as the mouth-body connection. “The mouth is not disconnected from the rest of the body,” says Francesco D’Aiuto, senior lecturer at the Eastern dental institute in London. Although it’s too early to say for sure that gum disease directly causes other more serious illnesses, “people should not underestimate what the body senses when the mouth is neglected”.
Poor oral hygiene affects your mouth. It causes really bad breath, decay,gum desease, abscesses of a tooth, infections in the mouth and eventually tooth loss. But little do we know that neglecting oral hygiene can lead to very serious health complications. For example, in the early stages of gum disease, it shows symptoms of gingivitis, with bleeding gums when brushing. When left untreated it can develop into periodontitis, when the gums begin to pull away from the teeth. This will allow bacteria to grow into newer pockets. Every time you brush bacteria are pushed into the body, which triggers inflammation.
Bacteria or other inflammatory chemicals that are released from the immune system as a result of infections in the mouth enter the bloodstream and influence the behaviour of other tissues and organs making the impact systemic.
Studies have linked oral health to Type II diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. Diseases in the mouth due to the inadequacy of oral hygiene and also affects nutrition. Due to the resulting pain and inflammation we tend to limit the consumption of fruits, vegetables and cereals.
Some studies have shown that a bacterium known as Fusobacterium nucleatum which is commonly implicated in gum diseases can reduce the ability of immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer causing cells.
Poor oral hygiene is also linked to memory loss which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies show that inflammatory chemicals released due to gum infections can end up inflaming the brain. This then results in the brain cell death causing memory loss.
Bad oral health is linked to respiratory problems such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis. Infection-causing bacteria travel from the mouth to the bloodstream from where it gets access to lungs. This aggravates respiratory symptoms in some patients.
Experts recommend that you brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Combine this with regular visits to a dentist who can help identify hidden diseases in the mouth and save you from other diseases. As they rightly say, look after your teeth, they will look after you.