The benefits of keeping your teeth and gums in good shape don’t stop at your mouth but have an effect on the overall health of your body. Much of the body’s bacteria is introduced through the mouth. Eating, drinking and simply breathing enable these molecules to build up on your teeth and gums. Even while sleeping, bacteria grows, which is why you might wake up with a film-like feeling on the surface of your teeth and around your lips. A 2-minute brushing session followed by some gentle flossing can help, but you need to maintain these regular routines for life to keep your mouth in peak condition.
Failing to maintain proper oral health practices leads to a build up of plaque around your teeth, making your gums more prone to infection. When this occurs, the immune system begins to attack the gums, resulting in inflammation. While the immune system is trying to help your body, regular inflammation damages delicate gums and the very bones that hold your teeth intact. This is when gum disease can occur.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It’s mainly caused by bacteria from plaque build-up. In some people, who are more prone to the disease, the body goes into attack mode against the bacteria around the gums and causes too much inflammation. In others, the inflammation doesn’t heal properly. The result of the intense gum inflammation is that it also affects the bloodstream with bacteria entering the blood and is believed to slowly damage blood vessels in the heart and brain over time.
Gum disease may increase your risk of all kinds of other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Gum disease has even been linked with problems in pregnancy and dementia. It makes it harder to regulate blood sugar levels and control diabetes and can even aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Over 90 percent of people with heart disease suffer from gum disease, also known as periodontitis. The two conditions share risk factors, including smoking, weight gain and poor nutrition. Heart experts say inflammation in the mouth constricts the blood vessels, prevent proper flow to and from the heart, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke.
The eyes might be the window to the soul but the mouth is the gateway to your health and the positive news is that there is much you can do to prevent such serious problems from developing over time. By brushing your teeth properly and consistently, looking after your gums and having regular check ups, you can help prevent a range of health problems. Brushing your teeth should consist of a full two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing or using interdental brushes to reach the awkward parts that your brush might miss.
The exact cause of gum disease, and why it affects some individuals more than others, is not yet completely understood. It is a complex disease involving an interaction between plaque bacteria and the person’s immune and inflammatory system. Hopefully now you can agree that there really are solid benefits to looking after your teeth and gums.