Tooth decay, foul breath, swollen and bleeding gums are directly linked to poor oral hygiene but your mouth is not the only part of your body-or anyone else’s-that may suffer when plaque and bacteria build up beyond what daily oral care alone can manage. Regular teeth cleaning is about more than just having clean teeth. Scientists are working to establish cause and effect of several known links between poor oral health and other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, premature birth, dementia and more.
What Is All the Fuss?
Poor oral hygiene is known to lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss but not yet known to cause other health risks mentioned here. What is known are some strong links between plaque buildup and oral bacteria escaping the mouth and entering the bloodstream where they attack major organs already compromised by existing health conditions. Inflammation from periodontal disease can increase underlying inflammation in diseases throughout the body such as heart disease. Periodic teeth cleanings remove plaque and tartar build up that even the best daily oral care efforts miss.
Bacteria from the mouth could be inhaled into the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe.
Oral plaque is a third type of plaque that threatens heart health. Joint recommendations from The American Journal of Cardiology and The Academy of Periodontology encourage periodontists and cardiologists to ask their respective patients about family history of heart disease, personal heart health and gum disease. Increased awareness by physicians of patients with high risk of either or both may help determine the best treatment plan for managing dual inflammatory diseases.
Cognitive Health Risks
Participants with severe gum disease scored worse on calculations and memory tests than those without gum disease. Even mildly affected cognitive impairments, such as memory problems, can make daily activities more challenging. Gum disease also raises the risk of later-in-life dementia.
Chronic inflammation is common to both this autoimmune disease and periodontal disease. Bodies already marked by painful joints and racked with inflammation from RA are vulnerable to the inflammation from underlying periodontal disease. Treatment of periodontal disease lessened morning stiffness, swelling and pain in those with severe forms of RA. Deep cleaning is a part of this treatment for gum disease but regular teeth cleanings can help to prevent it.
Those with diabetes are more likely to be stricken with infections, including gum disease, than people who do not have the disease. Inflammation may be partly responsible for this higher risk.
There are conflicting results from studies on this link, but some show that women with gum disease are more likely to experience preterm births. Getting treatment before the 35th week decreases this risk and the associated risks to a preterm baby.
During regular teeth cleanings and dental exams, the dentist will check your tongue and mouth for signs of oral cancer.
Regular tooth brushing and flossing help protect your teeth and gums from day to day, but regular teeth cleanings by professionals are part of the best strategy to combat gum disease and other long-term health risks from plaque and bacteria build up in the mouth.