Dental bacteria can kill more than a smile. If you have experienced chronic oral infections, don’t floss regularly, and otherwise neglect your oral hygiene, you might be jeopardizing more than just your teeth – studies are revealing a link between neglecting your teeth and many serious health problems.
Dentists have known for years that oral infections pose a significant hazard to heart valves, but new research indicates that chronic dental infections may also contribute to hardening of the arteries, heart attack, stroke, and even pre-term births. The root cause seems to be the millions of bacteria living and breeding inside your mouth.
Even the healthiest mouth is not a sterile environment. There are many different resident bacteria around your teeth and gums and without proper care, oral bacteria can build up, find its way into your bloodstream, and from there, travel throughout your body. Inflammation sets in where bacteria finally settles, and your immune system can’t always fight off the resulting infection. Inflammation can create sites where fatty deposits form, resulting in clogged arteries and veins. Bacteria from your mouth may combine with blood-clotting cells called platelets, forming dangerous blood clots.
Heart disease and stroke
Gum disease is the most common chronic oral infection. It begins at or below the gumline, often painlessly and with no visible signs or symptoms, and can lead to inflammation of the gums and bone around your teeth. Left untreated, bacteria builds up cell by cell to form colonies along the gumline which can be resistant to antibiotics. Other germs will grow down your tooth and migrate into your blood vessels. Dental plaque (the sticky film of bacteria surrounding your teeth) can get mixed up with blood-clotting cells, forming a clump. These clumps of bacteria can irritate the walls of your blood vessels, and if they make their way to your heart, they may increase the formation of heart-stopping blood clots.
Research shows that the fatty deposits lodged in the carotid arteries of most stroke sufferers contain bacteria, and much of this bacteria comes from the mouth.
We also know that diabetics with gum disease have a greater risk of heart attack – perhaps three times more likely, according to some studies – than those with healthy gums.
Pregnant women with gum disease are seven to eight times more likely to give birth prematurely, to low birth-weight babies. Read more about pregnancy and dental health here.
Protect your health!
Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will greatly reduce your chances of tooth and gum infections, and protect your overall health. Book your appointment here.