Everyone knows that to have white healthy teeth and a healthy mouth overall you need to practice good oral hygiene. Without doing so plaque will buildup around your teeth leading to all sorts of problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and other oral health issues.
What many people don’t realize is that oral health is so closely linked to many other overall health issues as well. Practicing good oral hygiene will not only give you good oral health, but will help in keeping you healthy from developing certain diseases and serous illnesses.
If you have poor oral health, you will be at higher risk of health issues such as heart disease, alzheimer’s and pancreatic cancer.
How heart disease is linked to oral health
Several studies have been conducted on the relationship between poor oral health and cardiovascular issues. In 2008, for example, a joint research study between the University of Bristol in England and the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin concluded that people who have bleeding gums due to poor oral health could be at a higher risk of heart disease.
Considering that the mouth is possibly the dirtiest place on the human body, bacteria from the mouth can more easily enter the bloodstream when bleeding gums are present. In the study it was found that this bacteria sticks to platelets in the blood and uses them as a protective shield against immune cells.
When bacteria clumps platelets together in this way it can cause a blood clot to occur, interrupting blood that is flowing to the heart. This of course is very dangerous and can cause a heart attack or other heart related issues.
How alzheimer’s is linked to oral health
Research from several independent studies have shown that people with poor oral health may be at a higher risk of getting alzheimer’s. A study by a research team from New York University in 2010 concluded that there is a link between alzheimer’s disease and inflamed gums. In this study they found patients older than 70 years old who have gum disease had a noticeable reduction in cognitive function when compared to those without gum disease.
Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire built on this study in 2013 by comparing brain samples from a group of 10 patients without alzheimers to a group of 10 patients who had alzeheimers. In this study they found that the patients with alzheimers had a bacteria known as porphyromonas gingivalis present in their brain samples. This bacteria is also present in chronic gum disease, making it a significant finding in this study.
According to Dr Singhrao, one of the main researchers in the study, P. gingivalis can enter the brain through several different avenues from the mouth. Once it is in the brain, the immune system releases chemicals to battle the bacteria, which inadvertently damages some neurons that are related to memory, causing an increased risk of alzheimers.
How pancreatic cancer is linked to oral health
In 2007 a research team from Harvard University reported a link between pancreatic cancer and periodontitis. This was found by examining a study that began in 1986 which collected data on the health of over 51,000 men every two years between 1986 and 2002.
The Harvard researchers found that men who had a history of periodontitis were 64% more likely to develop 64% when compared to men who never had any type of gum disease. One of the findings in this study was that there are higher levels of carcinogenic compounds known as nitrosamines in the mouths of people with gum disease. The researchers suggest that when nitrosamines react with digestive enzymes in the stomach, an environment that is ideal for pancreatic cancer is developed.
One of the researchers, Dominique Michaud, says that although gum disease has not be confirmed conclusively to be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, there is a strong link that needs to be further explored.
Stay healthy by practicing good oral hygiene
Having oral health issues opens up the doorway to so many dangerous bacterias entering your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, these bacteria can cause so many other issues that we may not even be aware of yet.
The illnesses discussed in this article are just some of the health issues that can arise from having poor oral health. So If having good smelling breath and shiny teeth wasn’t enough of a reason to practice good oral hygiene, hopefully the increased risk factors of more serious overall health issues will do the trick.