When it comes to providing exceptional Springfield dental care, our team at McKenzie River Dental strives to protect the long-term oral health of all of our patients so they can enjoy a great-looking smile for a lifetime. While it’s easy to under appreciate what brushing and flossing means to your health, it’s becoming clear that our oral health matters to far more than just our teeth and gums.
In recent years, a growing amount of research has found surprising links between tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss to a number of chronic health conditions that include everything from heart disease to arthritis. While researchers don’t fully know the mechanism behind this mouth/body connection, it’s become apparent that we need to care for our oral health now more than ever.
A chronic infection of your gum tissue, gum disease ranks as one of the most common illnesses in the U.S. In fact, approximately 47 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from either moderate or severe gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gum disease even becomes more prevalent as we age; 70 percent of adults 65 and older suffer from some level of gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque on the surface of our teeth and along the gum line. When allowed to remain in place, plaque hardens into a yellowish substance called tartar that stains our teeth and causes gum inflammation. When our gums become inflamed they begin to bleed, crack, and appear red and swollen.
Over time, gum disease begins to attack the underlying tissue and bone structure that holds our teeth in position. This type of advanced gum disease – called periodontitis – ranks as the leading cause of permanent tooth loss in the U.S.
Fortunately, you can significantly lower your risk of gum disease by practicing three basic habits – brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and schedule regular Springfield dental care appointments.
Both the American Heart Association and the American Dental Association have agreed that individuals with gum disease have a significantly higher risk for developing heart disease. While the exact process behind this connection remains a mystery, researchers do have a rather compelling theory.
When cracks appear in our gum line due to gum disease, harmful oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, such as the heart. Once there, the bacteria begins to cause inflammation, which researchers say is the root cause for systemic disease in the body.
What makes this theory so interesting is that studies have found oral plaque in the arteries of patients dealing with heart disease and those who have experienced a heart attack.
Chronic Bad Breath
If you regularly battle with bouts of “dragon breath,” your brushing and flossing habits may have just as much to do with the problem as what you eat.
By failing to brush and floss, you allow food particles and plaque that linger in the mouth after eating to accumulate between your teeth and along the gum line. When these food particles begin to break down, they release a foul smelling odor that can be embarrassing.
Another area of the mouth that causes your breath to smell less than its best is your tongue. The sponge-like nature of your tongue allows bacteria to form a foul-smelling whitish coating over the surface of your tongue. If you don’t regularly brush your tongue, chances are your breath will suffer as a result.
You’re Brushing for Two
Studies have found that poor oral health can have a number of unexpected effects on women who are, or want to be, pregnant.
One recent study found that women who suffer from gum disease may have trouble conceiving, while a full body of research has found that the disease could impact birth. Women suffering from gum disease have a higher risk of low-birth weight and premature birth.
To complicate matters, pregnant women have a higher risk for developing gum disease. So called “pregnancy gingivitis” is caused by the fluctuation of hormones that occurs throughout pregnancy. To keep their gums and baby healthy, it’s important that mothers continue to receive basic dental care while expecting.
Enjoying Your Golden Years
Seniors who have lost teeth due to gum disease face a number of challenges.
Missing teeth can make it harder to chew, which is why many seniors with missing teeth suffer from nutritional problems as they eat softer, less healthy foods. Missing teeth also cause the face to appear sunken or hollow, which could become a source of embarrassment.
While many people view tooth loss as an unavoidable consequence of aging, that’s simply not true. By brushing and flossing daily, and scheduling regular exams with our team at McKenzie River Dental, you can lay the foundation for quality oral health now and into the future.
So the next time you forget to brush before going to bed, don’t find the time to floss, or fail to schedule a cleaning or exam at McKenzie River Dental, consider some of the problems that neglecting your oral health can cause. We are here to help you keep your oral health in check!