In dentistry, there are plenty of things to be worried about. Brushing, flossing, cavities, and enamel strength. However, as the classic adage states, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The same goes for your oral health. While superficial standards, such as teeth whiteness, can often occupy our definition of optimal health, it is far from the whole story. What happens beneath the gum line is just as important as above, and sometimes, even more important!
This is where our discussion starts.
Oral hygiene has implications on overall systematic health, which often comes as a surprise to our clients. The Canadian Dental Association recognizes that there is a link between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, and most concerningly, heart disease and stroke.
But how does our oral health affect our heart? What is the link?
Well, it starts with poor dental hygiene and something dentists love to talk about – Periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
To state it clearly, periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding your teeth. It is typically progressed and caused by poor dental hygiene, which allows for plaque and bacteria to accumulate.
When broken down, the term Periodontal often gets misrepresented as only your gums, however, if speaking to a specialized dentist, known as a periodontist, you will quickly learn the definition encompasses the full structure supporting your teeth – this includes your ligaments and jaw.
How Does Periodontal Illnesses Effect your Heart?
While research on the link between dental and systematic health has been going on since the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the 80s that experts had the proper methods to describe the relationship.
Since then, countless studies have helped to define which ailments can be exacerbated through periodontal diseases and the list is not short.
Systemic health issues such as diabetes, obesity, pregnancy outcomes, kidney disease, arthritis, cognitive impairment, and cardiovascular diseases.
These outcomes have been linked through two main pathogenic mechanisms – direct and indirect.
Perpetuated through chronic periodontitis, pockets underneath your gum line become ulcerated from constant inflammation and infection. These ulcers provide a direct entry point for bacteria within your mouth to enter circulation. Over time, the bacteria and plaque entering your system has direct effects on your organs and have been shown to play a role in the formation of atheromatous plaque.
Much like high blood pressure, poor dental hygiene has “invisible” effects on your overall health. Over time, the inflammation caused by plaque will have its side-effects. Your body isn’t made to fight infection 24/7. It is well noted across medical professions that inflammation itself is a catalyst for several chronic illnesses, from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular complications.
Oral Hygiene Tips for Healthy Living
While brushing and flossing will always be recommended by your dentist, our everyday habits play a large role in your dental health.
So, to protect your body and teeth, here are some habits that you can change today for better oral and cardiovascular health:
- Healthy Diet
- Abstain from Tobacco
- Use of Fluorides
- Brush Twice and Floss Once Each Day
When is the Last Time You Saw your Dentist?
When it comes to periodontal diseases, time is your best defence. When caught early enough, patients can easily put their oral health on the right track with proper hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.
Much like your car, you wouldn’t run on a flat tire until your only left with a rim, so don’t wait for your dental health either. Call us today to book your next dental checkup and make sure you’re reaching your optimal health!