Published On: Fri, Apr 19th, 2013

Can Poor Oral Health Kill You?

 

In a word, yes. Your oral health meaning the health of your gums, teeth, tongue and other oral tissues are connected to everything else in your body.  When you are sick with an illness in the body often there are changes in your mouth in response. Additionally, when you have infection in your mouth such as cavities or a tooth abscess these can spread infection to the rest of your body.

Disease

When you have poor oral health you may miss early warning signs of serious illness which change the conditions in your mouth or even cause an eventual illness. For example those with HIV frequently have painful open sores in their mouth. Discolored gums and inflammation of the gums could mean diabetes or other serious illness in the body. Lumps in the mouth, painful gums, even teeth no longer fitting together can be warning signs of cancer. People that lose teeth before age 35 may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Women who have gum disease can give birth to low weight or ill babies and bone loss in the mouth has been linked to osteoporosis in later years. Other illnesses  where research suggests a link between poor oral health and the body include diabetes, heart disease and sjogren’s syndrome to name a few.

Bacteria

There are thousands of bacteria in the human mouth. Some of these are good bacteria but much of it is the bad kind that causes infection and decay when left unchecked.  These bacteria contained in the mouth can spread.  The teeth and gums like other body parts consist of tissue, blood vessels and bones. When a person does not practice good oral hygiene these bacteria multiply quickly and cause decay of the teeth. As the teeth decay infection spreads to the inner area of the tooth called the pulp. It also attacks the gums causing them to swell and bleed from infection. This infection spreads to from the teeth, pulp, and gums into the blood vessels and the bacteria rides the flow of blood to other parts of the body. Once there the bacteria continue to thrive causing damage to the bones, the heart and other vital organs. The organs lose their ability to function properly as a result. For instance, bacteria from inflamed gums can go to the heart contributing to clogged arteries and heart infections. This in turn can cause heart disease and heart attacks and possible death. This is just one way poor oral health can contribute to your death. Anytime bacteria overrun the body you run the risk of vital organs being damaged or shutting down.

Improving Oral Health

While some damage can be permanent improving oral health will help avoid further problems or keep them from even starting in some cases.  Brush your teeth daily after each meal and before bed. Floss often and use a mouthwash designed to kill germs not just make your breath smell nice.  Visit your dentist routinely even if you are not experiencing dental pain or problems.  By doing so your preferred dental care service provider can catch any signs of an illness before it gets too far. Taking time to practice good oral health procedures will pay off in a pain free and longer life.

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and occasional blogger on health-related topics. She is currently writing on behalf of a Houston dentist raising awareness about oral health issues.

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