Oral Care and Chronic Illnessby Smart Mouth
Good oral health means more than just a pretty smile. It’s an essential part of staying healthy, and in some cases, could mean the difference between life and death. Like other areas of the body, your mouth is filled with bacteria. While it’s mostly harmless, some of these bacteria can reach your digestive and respiratory tracts, potentially causing disease. Oral health is linked to several chronic diseases, including periodontal (gum) disease, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Poor dental health is linked to the following chronic conditions:
Gum disease is a build up of plaque between your gums and teeth. If that plaque isn’t removed, it can cause your gums to begin pulling away from your teeth giving bacteria more spaces to build up. Gum disease can lead to many dangerous conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. It can be managed with controlled diet and medical treatment. Because gum disease is an infection, it can cause blood sugar to rise, which can not only affect your blood sugar levels, but also cause oral problems, such as dry mouth, cavities, inflamed gums and cold sores. You are also more likely to get an infection in your mouth because high glucose levels may help germs grow and set the stage for infection.
A healthy mouth can fight off bad bacteria that can cause disease, but gum disease removes the ability to fight off those germs. Studies have linked gum disease (periodontal disease) and cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, clogged arteries, and even strokes.
Oral Care is Vital
Normally good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep bacteria under control. Without dental hygiene, bacteria can lead to oral infections like gum disease.
The best way to prevent these potential problems is through good oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
- Replace your toothbrush every three months
- Floss regularly
- See your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups
- Limit starchy food with added sugars
- Avoid soda and overly sweetened drinks
- Avoid tobacco
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
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