For a lot of us, the importance of keeping our teeth clean has been ingrained into our minds by our parents and teachers since childhood. Brushing after every meal, flossing properly, rinsing with a good mouthwash, and visiting the dentist regularly are customs that are religiously observed by many people well into the their adulthood.
This is actually a very good thing, considering that having a clean set of choppers offers a lot of health benefits most people are not even aware of. The fact is that keeping one’s teeth and gums clean can benefit not only the mouth area, it is also good for the entire body. Read on to find out why…
a. Having clean teeth and gums lowers risk of heart attack and stroke
A study conducted by researchers from the Taiwan Veterans General Hospital in the city of Taipei revealed that people who have gone through at least one dental cleaning in their lifetime had 24% lower risk of heart attack and 13% lower risk of stroke compared to people who have never received such procedures. The link between oral health and heart health are not yet fully established, but the common denominator between heart and periodontal diseases is chronic inflammation.
In a consensus report published in the Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology, experts have cited a study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which revealed that gum disease is an important risk factor for diseases of the blood vessels and the arteries that provide blood and oxygen to the brain. These diseases in include stroke. Other studies showed that gum diseases is also a factor for coronary heart diseases, as well as clogged arteries in the legs.
b. Lowers risk of dementia
Similar to how inflammation in the gums can affect the heart, inflammatory substances can also affect the brain by enhancing brain inflammation, which is the one of the causes of neurodegeneration and memory loss. This is according to a Japanese study published in December 2010 by the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions. The research, which tested over 4,200 people, discovered that those who have lost the most teeth are more at risk of experiencing dementia and developing Alzheimer’s disease.
c. Prevents progression of diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, people who have diabetes have an increased risk of developing gum problems because they have poor blood glucose control. Conversely, studies have also shown that gum problems can affect a diabetic person’s blood glucose control and may make the disease worse. It’s a two-way street because infection of the gums can elevate blood sugar levels and make diabetes harder to control. Proper oral health care for diabetics, therefore, is an absolute must.
d. Lowers risk of kidney problems
A study conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also supports the link between periodontal disease and kidney problems. The research, which involved 5,500 participants, revealed that people with gum disease were much more likely to have renal insufficiency. This is a chronic condition that results in the progressive reduction of kidney function, a disorder that can eventually lead to renal failure.
e. Healthier pregnancy
Pregnant women are more prone to developing gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease. However, gingivitis can be a precursor to more serious gum problems. It is important for pregnant women to keep their teeth clean because chronic gum disease is linked to premature births and low birth weight among infants.
In a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, 450 pregnant women were tested to examine the link between gum disease and the aforementioned pregnancy conditions. It was revealed that 79% of individuals with chronic and untreated periodontal disease delivered early or had infants with low birth weights. The figure was only 4.1% for women with healthy gums.
f. Lowers risk of respiratory diseases
A study released in 2011 by the American Academy of Periodontology revealed that maintaining periodontal health could contribute to respiratory health as well. The research included 200 participants, half of whom had respiratory diseases like pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and acute bronchitis. The study showed that these individuals also had worse periodontal health compared to healthy control subjects, suggesting that the presence of microorganisms that cause gum disease may also increase a person’s chance of developing respiratory diseases.
Ensuring that you have clean teeth has its rewards, and not just in terms of maintaining your pearly-white smile. Keeping oral pathogens in check by observing proper dental hygiene can also contribute to a healthy body in general, allowing you to enjoy a better quality of life.