5 Health Benefits You Wouldn’t Expect from Oral Hygiene

There are obvious benefits of brushing and flossing regularly, such as fewer cavities and better breath. However, good oral hygiene can also positively affect many other aspects of your health. Some of the benefits may even be a bit surprising. Here are a few of them:

Good oral hygiene can protect the health of your heart.

When you brush and floss properly, you remove plaque and oral bacteria that can cause tooth decay and inflame your gums. Microbes that live in the mouth excrete acid as a digestive byproduct when they consume carbohydrates or sugars from your meals or snacks. The acid causes tissue inflammation that may lead to gum disease.

As gum disease progresses, the gums become infected, and pockets or spaces form between the gums and the teeth. Within these pockets, oral bacteria can accumulate and begin to invade the bloodstream, spreading inflammation throughout the body.  Blood vessels may develop arterial plaques to help heal inflamed areas along vessel walls. However, these plaques can build up, resulting in blocked vessels that can incite a heart attack or stroke.

People with gum disease have an elevated risk of heart disease. However, the risk could be lowered by protecting their gum health with good oral hygiene.

It is important to keep in mind that gum disease is reversible. If signs of early gum disease, such as bleeding, swollen or reddened gums, develop, more meticulous oral hygiene efforts should be observed.

A pregnant woman with good oral hygiene may have a healthier pregnancy and childbirth.

Pregnant women with periodontal disease have an increased likelihood of having a low birth weight baby and delivering preterm.

During pregnancy, women are prone to a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This moderate form of gum disease occurs during pregnancy because of insufficient oral hygiene coupled with pregnancy hormones that cause an increase in blood flow to the gingival tissues. Like other forms of gum disease, pregnancy gingivitis can worsen over time, resulting in additional problems.

Babies who are born early or who weigh less than five pounds at birth are more prone to complications, such as frequent ear infections and asthma. They are even at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Poor dental hygiene may exacerbate symptoms of diabetes.

People with diabetes may already have a difficult time controlling their blood sugar, and poor oral hygiene can worsen the situation. Periodontal disease that results from poor oral hygiene may cause an increase in inflammation throughout the body, increasing insulin resistance and interfering with proper carbohydrate metabolism.

The link between diabetes and periodontal disease appears to be a two-way association.  Diabetes increases the chance of periodontal disease, and gum disease increases the likelihood of diabetic complications.

Men who fail to observe proper dental hygiene may have a greater chance of developing erectile dysfunction.

Men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic periodontal disease. The reason for the link is not completely clear, but since inflammation can be spread by oral bacteria to the blood vessels, the association may be due to the impaired blood flow that may occur when a blood vessel wall is inflamed.

Chronic periodontal disease begins because of the buildup of plaque in the mouth. Although plaque can easily be brushed away with a simple toothbrush, if it is permitted to remain in place for long periods, plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar, which requires a professional dental cleaning for removal, is porous, offering more surface area for plaque accumulation.

To lessen the chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction, men should be sure to brush and floss regularly.

People with poor oral hygiene may be at increased risk of developing dementia.

When oral hygiene is inadequate, periodontal disease may develop. The resulting pockets in the gums can allow oral bacteria to migrate to other areas of the body– including the brain.

Oral bacteria that are related to gum disease have been found in the brains of deceased dementia patients. Some studies have compared the brains of people who passed away with dementia to those of people who died without the disease. The findings indicated that the oral bacteria were not present in the brains of the subjects who did not develop dementia.

To learn about effective oral hygiene practices that can help protect your health, contact our office to schedule a consultation.