There are now strong findings that support something that health experts have suspected for a long time – infections in the mouth can be linked with problems in other parts of the body and the mind.
Diseases and conditions which may be caused or made worse by poor oral health include:
Most of these problems are linked to poor gum health, specifically severe gum disease, and the bacteria that lives in your mouth. Having a healthy mouth could help you keep such disease at bay.
National Smile Month is a great opportunity to learn all about preventing gum disease. Throughout the campaign, the Oral Health Foundation be giving you lots of tips about oral hygiene routines to stop gum infections and advice on what foods and drinks your gums will love (and hate).
You’ll also be able to find out how to spot the early signs of gum disease and know what to do when you notice anything out of the ordinary.
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery (heart) disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, it is thought that bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs. If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes.
They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one.
People with diabetes are more likely to have or get gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk.
If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications. Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dental team before you have any treatment.
If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth – so keeping up to date with your dental examinations is really important.
Website last updated: July 2022
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