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8 major health conditions linked to dental health issues

Most people understand that taking care of your teeth is important.

What they may not know is that dental health care isn’t just important for your mouth. Your oral health can affect the rest of your body as well as indicate risk for serious illness. This is being called the mouth-body connection.

Recent research suggests that factors such as plaque buildup and gum disease in the mouth can negatively impact your overall health, and can even help contribute to serious problems like heart disease and Alzheimer's.

Here are 8 major health conditions linked to dental health issues:

1. Respiratory Infections

Studies suggest that periodontal disease is a risk factor for infections of the lungs, even pneumonia. The constant inhalation of bacteria from teeth and gum disease enters into your lungs where it can wreak havoc.

2. Pregnancy Complications

Periodontal disease present in the mother during pregnancy can affect both the pregnancy and the baby. Several health organizations have conducted research that shows the link between periodontal disease and the risk of delivering a baby preterm and underweight.

3. Kidney Disease

The connection between poor oral health and kidney disease has also been drawn. Toothless adults seem to be much more likely to develop chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease can, in turn, lead to other serious issues with blood pressure and the heart.

4. Cardiovascular Disease

If bacteria builds up in your mouth because of gum inflammation or other periodontal issues, it can begin to spread through your bloodstream. If it does, it can cause serious problems for your arteries and heart including plaque build-up in the arteries and the infections of the inner lining of the heart.

5. Stroke

There are several connections between periodontal disease and stroke. Individuals who have lost most of their teeth or have suffered from a loss of tissue around the teeth are at an increased risk of having a stroke. Severe periodontitis can greatly increase the risk for developing atherosclerotic plaques, which can often lead to stroke or heart attack.

6. Diabetes

A link between dental problems and diabetes isn’t all that surprising. A lack of good tooth and gum health can even affect your body’s metabolism. This can make it quite difficult for your body to regulate blood-sugar levels and can lead to pre-diabetic conditions as well as accelerate and worsen existing diabetes.

7. Rheumatoid Arthritis

A strong correlation has been found between periodontal disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Both conditions involve chronic inflammation and share other similarities. Researchers aren’t sure which causes the other, but studies have shown improvements in patients with R.A. after being treated for existing periodontal disease.

8. Alzheimer’s Disease

Studies have found multiple links between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. The bacteria produced in the mouth because of gum disease can find it’s way into the brain via the bloodstream and contribute to the development of dementia. Severe inflammation is also cited as a risk factor developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

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Developments in our understanding of the mouth-body connection can increase our ability to prevent as well as treat health issues in the body caused or influenced by poor oral health.

Advancements in both treatment and prevention of oral issues will continue as more health professionals consider the impact of oral microbiome.

Still, the best advice will always be to practice good dental hygiene and remain conscious of how your choices affect your health.

Last modified on Monday, 25 July 2016 16:26

Excellent, always excellent work. I noticed that you are one of Atlanta's best dentists. Why am I not surprised? After all, I've been seeing you for nearly 40 years! It's about time Atlanta noticed. ~anonymous Sep 17, 2015

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