Taking care of your smile is important to staying healthy. Find out what health concerns a healthy mouth may help you avoid:
Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart, and occurs when bacteria from another part of the body spreads through the bloodstream. Gum disease increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth, raising your risk of getting endocarditis.
• Heart Disease
Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with heart disease. Studies show that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have gum disease. Inflammation in the mouth caused by gum disease can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, because the inflamed blood vessels allow less blood to travel to the heart. Gum disease also raises the risk for fatty plaque to build up in the blood vessels, which could break off and travel to the brain, causing a heart attack.
• Premature Birth and Low Birth Weight
During pregnancy, dental health matters for both mom and baby-to-be. There’s a link between premature births and pregnant women with gum disease. Bacteria buildup can travel through the bloodstream and to the baby, causing fetal toxicity, sometimes resulting in premature birth or low birth weight. Learn more about dental health tips for expecting mothers here.
• Respiratory Infections
A healthy mouth can help keep your lungs strong. Bacteria in your mouth can increase the amount of bacteria in your lungs. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis are caused when bacteria from the throat is inhaled into the lower respiratory tract. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that among people hospitalized with respiratory infections, those with gum disease had worse infections than those who did not have gum disease.
Preventive oral care is the best way to prevent gum disease, including: Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing daily and seeing the dentist regularly.