Published On: Thu, Mar 21st, 2013

Can Bad Oral Hygiene Affect Your Overall Health?

Can Bad Oral Hygiene Affect Your Overall Health?While most people practice good oral hygiene for the most part; statistics suggest that many do not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50 percent of American adults have some form of gum disease. A quiet problem that often goes unnoticed for years, gum disease can cause all sorts of serious dental problems, including infections as well as tooth and bone loss. What’s more, recent studies suggest it could also contribute to some deadly and embarrassing medical problems.

Dementia

As life expectancies continue to increase, America is playing host to a growing elderly population. Unfortunately, as we age, natural health issues plague us all. That said, statistics show that Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more and more common for reasons we don’t yet understand.

A recent study out of the University of California uncovered a link between gum health and dementia. To reach their findings, the researchers looked at more than 5,000 senior citizens over a period of 18 years. Ultimately, they found that subjects who brushed their teeth less than once every day had a 65 percent greater chance of developing dementia when compared to participants who brushed their teeth on a daily basis.

Erectile Dysfunction

Millions of men have difficulty performing in the bedroom thanks to erectile dysfunction. While this embarrassing problem can stem from a variety of causes, at least one study suggests poor oral health could play a role in some cases.

Published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the research included 80 men who suffered from ED and 82 men who did not. After testing all of the participants, the researchers determined that while only 23 percent of those without ED showed signs of gum disease, a whopping 53 percent of those with ED tested positive for it.

Heart Disease

Numerous studies have linked poor gum health to cardiovascular disease. While researchers aren’t sure why the connection exists, they suspect it may have something to do with inflammation which could spread to other parts of the body. In fact, health professionals suspect that chronic inflammation may be the key factor that links gum disease with dementia, erectile dysfunction, heart disease and more.

Playing it Safe

Again, researchers aren’t exactly sure why poor oral health is associated with so many medical problems. That said, they are confident that the link does exist. As more and more studies pile up, it becomes clear that good dental hygiene may play a big role in keeping our entire bodies healthy.

To promote healthy teeth and gums, it’s important to brush and floss regularly; however, to prevent potentially serious problems, it’s also critical to maintain regular six-month dental checkups.

Because it can linger for quite a while without showing any noticeable signs, gum disease is akin to a time bomb. If left untreated, it can result in extensive bone loss that may require drastic, invasive surgery. Additionally, research has shown that when we neglect our dental health, there could be major health consequences down the road.

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Jessie Flesner is a freelance writer in New Albany, Indiana.  She writes widely about the health care industry, often including dental equipment.

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