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Did you know the health of your teeth and gums can actually make a significant impact on your overall health? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People, dental health is one of the top indicators of general health, along with other components like nutrition and tobacco use. Here are a few health issues that are directly linked to the quality of your dental health, along with easy ways you can practice good dental hygiene to avoid these issues.
The Cleveland Clinic explains that endocarditis is a disease that develops when bacteria enter the bloodstream and attack the lining of the heart valves. This can lead to leaky valves, heart blockages, and abscesses around the valves, and it’s ultimately fatal if not treated and managed.
One of the most common ways bacteria enter the bloodstream is through the mouth. If you want to cut back on the risk of developing a heart disease like endocarditis, it’s a good idea to practice good oral hygiene habits in order to minimize the presence of bacteria. If you’re having a more involved dental procedure done, you can also minimize your risk of developing endocarditis by taking any antibiotics that your dentist prescribes as directed.
High levels of the pregnancy hormone progesterone can leave expectant mothers at risk of developing gingivitis and even periodontitis. Hinsdale Dental explains this is because “blood vessels dilate during pregnancy due to elevated progesterone levels, making gums more vulnerable to bacteria.” Expectant mothers with severe oral issues like periodontitis run the risk of their babies being born prematurely with low birth weights.
In order to avoid these health issues and pregnancy complications, expectant moms should make sure to brush and floss regularly throughout the pregnancy, even if it causes nausea. It’s important not to miss any dentist appointments while pregnant– the dentist needs to be able to catch any problems before they become severe.
Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that typically leads to tooth loss if left untreated (Mayo Clinic). It’s usually caused when plaque accumulates on and below the gum line, which leads to a strong inflammatory response. In addition to causing tooth loss, periodontitis can actually lead to respiratory disease, exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis, and more.
If you want to prevent periodontitis and the potential health issues that can come along with it, make sure to brush and floss your teeth regularly in addition to visiting the dentist as scheduled. This will help keep your oral health in check and give your dentist the chance to catch small problems before they become bigger ones.
Pneumonia is a severe infection caused by a variety of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inflames one or both lungs. It can lead to shortness of breath, sharp chest pains, and general confusion. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, “People who never get dental checkups have an 86% greater risk of pneumonia than those who visit the dentist twice a year.”
While those typically at risk for pneumonia tend to be people recovering from surgery, people with an existing respiratory illness, or people with already weakened immune systems, everyone should practice good dental hygiene to minimize the risk of developing this infection. Practicing good dental hygiene includes brushing and flossing regularly, visiting the dentist at least twice a year, and keeping an eye out for any changes in your oral health.
The Harvard Business Review explains that, based on a 2019 report, gingivitis may be connected to Alzheimer's disease. Essentially, the bacteria that causes gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain. Once this happens, the bacteria release enzymes that can destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss and ultimately Alzheimer’s.
Like with many other health problems that are linked to dental health, the risk of developing gingivitis (and Alzheimer’s caused in part by gingivitis) can be minimized if you keep up with your oral hygiene routine and visit your dentist twice a year.
Dr. Jay Robertson joined our practice in July 2008. He is from Montgomery and is a graduate of Saint James School, Birmingham-Southern College, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Alabama Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry.
Dr. Robertson and his wife Jennifer have four children, John Campbell, Julian, Lowe, and Ansley.
Dr. Robertson serves on the board of the Montgomery Quarterback Club and is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. When not at work, Dr. Robertson enjoys all things sports, including Auburn, golf, and his children’s various sports.
“My family and I have finally found a family dentistry that has the skill, quality, innovation and compassion we desire. I actually smile leaving the dentist office now. This is thanks to Montgomery Dentistry.”
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