Most people should be aware of the fact that poor dental care can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. However, what most people don’t know is there is a very real connection between oral health and body health. A simple toothache could be the least of your problems if you slack on your dental hygiene. The connection between the bacteria in your mouth and how it can move to other parts of your body is a concern that people often overlook. Proper oral hygiene could lead to life threatening diseases within the body. Here is a look at some major areas of concern:

1- Respiratory infection

Studies have shown that there is a connection between periodontal disease and respiratory disease. People who suffer from low immunity may experience chronic or persistent respiratory problems. Just below the gum line, oral bacteria embeds itself without being challenged by the bodies immune system. This can cause an increase of risk for developing emphysema and pneumonia on top of the risk for periodontal disease.

2- Cardiovascular disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) may occur when bacteria from inflammation of the gums travels through the bloodstream to the arteries of the heart. This causes plaque to form on the inner walls of the arteries, which thickens and  increases the chances of heart attack or stroke. A condition known as endocarditis is another risk due to periodontal disease, this causes the inner lining of the heart to become infected and inflamed.

3- Dementia

Dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease can develop when the bacteria from gingivitis enters the brain through the bloodstream or through nerve channels in the head. Reports from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry have also linked poor oral hygiene and gingivitis to people who experience cluster headaches.

4- Diabetes

According to research done by the American Academy of Periodontology, this one is sneaky in two ways. Those with periodontal disease or inflammation of the gums find it harder to control blood sugar therefor making those who suffer with diabetic symptoms worse. Periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, putting people who have diabetes at risk for complications. On the flip side, those with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal disease. This double edged sword makes proper dental care even more important to those who already have this disease.

5- Breast cancer

Postmenopausal women with gum disease seem to be more at risk of getting breast cancer. And if the woman has a history of smoking, the risk is higher. Through brushing, flossing, and chewing bacteria in the mouth may get into the bloodstream. This cumulative exposure to the tissue is often considerable. Bacteria travels through the bloodstream to the tissue of the breast, this exposure creates a higher risk of breast cancer.

As you can see, keeping up with your daily brushing and flossing routine is more than just a way to keep your smile pearly white. Life threatening illness and disease can become a problem when your oral health isn’t taken seriously. Practice good dental hygiene and protect more than just your teeth – protect your life.