Dental Health and It's Importance to Your Overall Health
Many people don't understand the impact that poor dental health has on their overall health. According to the American Dental Association researchers have found evidence that inflammation and bacteria from gum disease (periodontitis) is often a precursor in some systemic diseases and conditions. The most common diseases seen are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, irritable bowel syndrome, low bone mass (osteopenia), stroke and dementia. Other studies show women who suffer from gum disease experience a higher incidence of pre-term, low-birth-weight babies.
As gum disease arises and gums become inflamed, bad bacteria can also arise and travel the lungs (leading to pneumonia and bronchitis), the heart (leading to stroke and heart attack) and the brain (potentially causing deterioration and contributing to dementia). Additionally, it causes blood sugar levels in the body to increase, thereby affecting diabetes. While more research is needed to better understand the link between oral health and diseases, there is a significant connection between proper oral hygiene and good overall health.
Unfortunately, poor dental health is an all-too-common problem. Experts report that periodontal disease is the sixth most common chronic condition worldwide, impacting nearly 750 million people. In the United States alone, a recent CDC report shows that 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
Many people are surprised to learn that gum disease is often painless and can develop without obvious symptoms. As the disease progresses, you may notice bleeding, redness, swelling, gum recession, tooth sensitivity/ pain, and bad breath. If you notice these symptoms, you will likely require ongoing treatment to prevent your case from worsening. Since symptoms often go unnoticed, it is important to schedule regular check-ups with your dentist and hygienist. If your dentist identifies a potential problem, he or she can recommend treatments that will keep the damage from spreading.
To protect your overall health, reduce your risk of tooth loss and gum disease, and maintain a healthy mouth, start by practicing good oral hygiene every day:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove plaque buildup and bacteria
- Use a toothpaste containing fluoride to help strengthen enamel helping to prevent tooth decay- Floss at least once a day
- Use mouthwash like Listerine after brushing and flossing to remove remaining food particles
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
- Eat a healthy diet and stay away from sugary foods or beverages
- Quit smoking and avoid tobacco products
- Maintain regular checkups with your dentist to help identify minor problems before they turn into serious issues
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