It’s simple common sense that good dental hygiene is essential for preventing cavities, decay, and tooth loss. However, there’s much more to brushing and flossing than reducing the time spent having repairs in the dentist’s chair.
Poor dental hygiene can have far-reaching effects throughout your body, particularly in later life. Here are just some of the reasons why looking after your teeth is essential for overall health.
Bad Breath and Gum Disease
Poor dental hygiene causes a rapid build-up of bacteria in your mouth. The most immediate problem this causes is bad breath, closely followed by gum disease. Halitosis is an embarrassing social problem, but gum disease is much more dangerous. Left untreated, it can cause total tooth loss and even permanent damage to your jaw bone.
High oral bacteria levels also cause problems for your veins and arteries. As the bacteria builds up and advanced gum disease sets in, the plaque it causes transfers into your bloodstream. Over time, this starts to clog up your carotid arteries, greatly increasing the risk of suffering a stroke.
And the artery problems don’t stop there. Narrowing arteries put extra strain on your heart, drastically raising the risks of heart disease in later life. Many scientists say poor dental hygiene is just as bad for your heart as high cholesterol levels.
Narrowed veins and circulation are also a major cause of erectile dysfunction in older men. Studies have found that advanced gum disease increases the risk of erectile problems by up to seven times.
Bacteria in the bloodstream can also reduce the efficiency of your lungs, making breathing more difficult. This puts even more strain on your heart, as well as decreasing your overall physical fitness.
And lastly, although it’s not known if there’s a direct link, almost every adult with diabetes also has gum disease, with over a third having a severe case of periodontitis. Whether this is cause or effect, it’s not a connection to take lightly.It’s important to stress that missing a few brushing and flossing sessions here and there isn’t going to do much harm to your long-term health. However, considering that poor dental hygiene is so closely linked to major health problems in later life, keeping to high oral standards is a small effort to make to reduce the risks.