Research shows that if you have an infection in your mouth, it can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even pregnancy complications. For years, healthcare professionals suspected there was a link between oral infections and some medical conditions, but they thought this was because bacteria from the mouth made its way to other parts of the body. But now studies are showing that the inflammation found in periodontal, or gum, disease may play a more specific role in causing or increasing the risk for certain conditions.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Poor oral health can contribute to these serious health problems:
- Heart disease: Researchers have found that long-term periodontitis, an infection of the gums, can lead to coronary heart disease or atherogenesis, a condition in which plaque forms in your arteries. In fact, people with gum disease are nearly twice at risk for heart disease.
- Stroke: There is evidence that severe periodontitis is also a risk for developing atherosclerotic plaques, which can cause strokes and heart attacks.
- Diabetes: Researchers have discovered that periodontal disease somehow affects the body’s metabolism and can contribute to the development of pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal.
- Pregnancy complications: Research by the American Academy of Periodontology has shown that periodontal disease can increase the risk of delivering a pre-term baby with a low birth weight. If you’re pregnant and have gum disease, be sure to seek regular dental care from a periodontist. Studies have found that periodontal therapy can reduce the risk of going into labor preterm or delivering a baby with a low birth weight. Pregnant women who are also diabetic are more prone to gum inflammation and more severe gum disease.
- Kidney disease: Poor oral health also seems to be linked to chronic kidney disease, which affects blood pressure and bone health, and can lead to kidney failure and heart disease.
- Mental health problems: It’s common knowledge that stress and anxiety can impact your health. But research has now shown a strong relationship between gum disease and many mental health problems, including stress, depression, distress, anxiety, and loneliness. All of these conditions can cause your body to produce more of the hormone cortisol which, in increased amounts, can aid in the progression of periodontal disease.
Researchers are continuing to find links between gum disease and other health conditions, such as obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, steroid abuse, menstrual problems, menopause, and osteoporosis, just to name a few. By taking good care of your teeth, getting regular dental checkups, and treating any dental problems that occur, you can keep your mouth healthy and also reduce your risk of developing a serious medical condition. If you already have one of these health problems, it’s vital that you take good care of your mouth to keep the condition from getting worse…….A healthy mouth, leads to a healthy body.
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