The Surprising Dangers Of Bad Oral Hygiene

August 30, 2017  |  
1 of 15 of a young woman brushing her teeth in her bathroom

Most people don’t see their teeth the way they see the rest of their body. Since your teeth don’t really feel things the way your skin and other organs do, it’s easy to forget that they have a lot going on. Beneath those pearly whites (or brown or yellow stubs, depending on how well you take care of your teeth) there is a lot happening. Keeping your teeth in good condition isn’t just about looking good. Sure, your smile is one of the first things people notice about you but they’re seeing a lot more than straight or crooked, white or yellow teeth: they’re getting a peek into how well you look after yourself. Considering that our mouth is a major opening to the rest of our body, and one that we open a lot between meals and conversation, it’s amazing we don’t pay it more attention. Here are the surprising health risks of poor dental hygiene.

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Heart disease

Several studies have found a strong link between poor oral hygiene and heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, poor dental hygiene is linked to a higher overall mortality rate than heart disease. Researchers are still working to find exactly how poor dental hygiene can lead to problems with one’s heart health, but the fact that there is a link is undeniable.












Those with poor oral hygiene are also more prone to strokes. Some of the bacteria in dirty mouths makes its way into the blood stream and can get into the blood vessels that transport blood to your brain. If this occurs, it can increase one’s risk of a stroke.









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Trouble in the bedroom

Men: having bad teeth could ruin your sex life in two ways. First off, bad teeth are a turn-off. Furthermore, the bacteria caused by periodontal disease can travel to the blood vessels around the genitals, interfering with proper circulation in this sensitive area.









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Early delivery

Some doctors believe that a leading cause of early delivery and premature babies is poor oral hygiene. Since infection anywhere in the body can heighten the risk of early delivery, infection of the mouth is no different. But furthermore, studies have found a link between the use of a certain mouth rinse and a lower risk of early delivery in pregnant women.






Tooth loss

Failing to go to your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, as well as continuing home care via flossing and brushing, can lead to periodontal disease. When this occurs, the bone that holds a tooth in place begins to deteriorate and can cause you to lose that tooth entirely.








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Your mouth is quite close to your brain, so what happens in one can quickly affect the other. Research has found that the brains of people with dementia tend to have unusually large amounts of the same bacteria that causes gingivitis—a disease of the gums. Some doctors believe that inflammation in the gums, caused by gingivitis, can lead to gingivitis in the brain.








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Asthma flare-ups

Some studies have found that the bacteria caused by periodontal disease can travel into the lungs and make pre-existing respiratory problems, like asthma, worse. It’s especially important for those who need inhalers or suffers from other lung conditions to take good care of their teeth.









Fertility problems

Research has found that women with gum disease take an average of two months longer to become pregnant than those with healthy mouths. If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, you may want to schedule some dentist visits, in addition to your OBGYN appointments.











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As stated before, periodontal disease can weaken the lungs. That’s why it’s been linked to a greater risk of pneumonia and bronchitis. Elderly individuals and children, who are already at a greater risk of developing these illnesses, need to take extra precautions to take care of their delicate teeth.


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A shockingly high percentage of diabetics suffer from periodontal disease. Get ready for this number: 95 percent of people with diabetes are also facing tooth decay. Studies suggest that this is because diabetics already have lower immune systems and are more susceptible to infections, including those in the mouth.






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Diabetic complications

Not only can poor oral hygiene lead to diabetes, but diabetics with periodontal disease could have a harder time managing their diabetes. Gum disease makes it difficult for otherwise healthy bodies to control blood sugar, making it especially dangerous for diabetics.











Male smokers have a significantly higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer and certain types of blood cancer. Some strains of periodontal disease result in antibodies that make it more difficult for your body to fight off cancer.











Overall inflammation

Inflammation of the gums can lead to overall inflammation in the body, meaning it could irritate conditions like arthritis, digestive issues, sore muscles and skin conditions. Bleeding in the gums is often a sign that there is inflammation occurring deeper in the body.










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People judge you based on your appearance—they just do. This ranges from dates to friends to potential employers. Studies have found that not only do people with bad teeth have a harder time getting work, but they also have to take more time off work than those with good teeth due to dental visits.








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When you smile, you actually feel happier. The simple act of smiling can instantly send your brain signals that you’re happy. People with bad teeth, however, smile less than those with good teeth due to insecurity. But stopping yourself from smiling could lead to you feeling generally unhappy.



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