Having a bright, healthy smile is just part of the oral health equation. When a patient ignores their oral health, they may unknowingly be at risk for serious health issues.
The mouth is the entryway to both the respiratory and digestive tracts. While regular brushing and saliva production fight off some harmful bacteria, health issues can increase bacterial formation. Furthermore, poor oral health care may result in tooth and gum infections. Left untreated, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause serious illness.
Here’s how your oral health affects your body:
- Blood clots: Gum infections or serious gum disease are the result of bacterial buildup which can cause blood clots. Blood clots can travel through the bloodstream and cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Missing teeth: Persistent or serious gum disease can cause the gums to recede. Eventually, without proper dental care, teeth may fall out. Without dental implants or dentures, patients cannot chew normally and are limited to consuming only soft foods. As a result, these individuals are more likely to experience nutritional deficiencies.
- Bone loss: Gum disease can also cause the jawbone to deteriorate, leading to tooth loss. This can make it more challenging to place implants—bone grafts and specialized implants make implants possible for most patients.
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s valve and chamber lining. Bacteria from oral disease may enter the bloodstream and attach to the heart causing heart inflammation.
- Pregnancy complications: Excess harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause pregnancy complications, including miscarriage.
- Weakened immune system: When you’re constantly fighting off infections, your immune system can be overwhelmed or permanently weakened. Over time, this can lead to more serious illnesses and even a shorter lifespan.
- Memory loss: Bacteria found in infected gums can actually enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain, where it causes inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to memory loss.
- Pneumonia: Harmful oral bacteria is also associated with a higher risk of developing pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious respiratory condition that can be life-threatening, especially in the elderly.
- Mental health: The effects of long-term oral health problems—including missing teeth—can also have a serious effect on mental health. People with missing teeth are less likely to socialize, talk or even smile, which may exacerbate depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
How to prevent illness caused by poor oral health
If you’re experiencing signs of gum disease or other oral infection, visit your Fioritto dentist immediately. Regular checkups, brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash will fight gum disease and help prevent other illnesses.
When gum disease leads to tooth loss, Dr. Mike can help. Implant options are available, even for people who have experienced jawbone loss. Whether you’re missing one tooth or several, implants can help you eat, speak, drink and smile just as if you had your natural teeth.
If you’re a good candidate for dental implants, Dr. Mike and the Cleveland Implant Institute can help restore your smile. Call us today to schedule a consultation, and find out how we can help protect both your oral and overall health.