Most people are aware that poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. However, not many people are aware of the serious consequences that poor dental hygiene can have on your general health. Over the years, many researchers have taken to investigating health conditions that are affected by poor dental health. Here are two of the most serious illnesses that are linked to oral health:
In 2013, the University of Central Lancashire investigated the link between Alzheimer’s disease and oral health, by comparing brain samples from 10 people with Alzheimer’s to brain samples of people who did not have the disease. What they discovered was that a bacterium known as “Porphyromonas gingivalis” was only present in the brain samples of people who had Alzheimer’s disease. Porphyromonas gingivalis is associated with chronic gum disease.
Porphyromonas gingivalis can leave the mouth and enter the brain through the bloodstream. This can either be done by moving directly through the blood circulation system, or by crawling up the nerve that connects the brain and the roots of the teeth. Once Porphyromonas gingivalis enters the brain, it damages the functional neurons in the area of the brain related to memory.
Harvard researchers examined 51,000 men starting in 1986. Their research concluded that men with a history of gum disease had a 64% increased risk of pancreatic cancer, when compared to men who had never had gum disease. Men with recent tooth loss were considered to be at an even greater risk of pancreatic cancer.
Although the research was unable to determine whether or not periodontitis bacteria was the cause or result of pancreatic cancer, it has been proven that the two are linked. The study was revisited in 2012, where it concluded that periodontitis bacteria (a bacteria which affects the tissue that support the teeth, causing bone loss around the base of the teeth) is the main gum inflammation associated with pancreatic cancer.
The first steps to protecting yourself and your family from the above-mentioned illnesses, is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, eat a healthy diet with limited snacks between meals, replace your toothbrush every three to four months and schedule a regular dental check-up.
Regular dental check-ups can help to detect any signs of poor nutrition and hygiene, thus allowing the dentist to watch for developments of any oral issues that could affect your overall wellbeing. Contact us for a dentist in Cape Town who can provide you with the peace of mind when it comes to your oral health.
Mayo Clinic “What conditions may be linked to oral health?”
Delta Dental “Healthy smile, healthy you: The importance of oral health”
Medical News Today “Beyond Tooth Decay: Why Good Dental Hygiene is Important”