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Healthy Mouth, Healthy You

You already know that proper oral hygiene keeps your smile looking good, but did you know that it also contributes to your overall health? The health of your mouth reveals a lot about the health of your body, which means it pays to give those pearly whites some extra TLC.

If you’re wondering how your gums and teeth can possibly affect the rest of you, then consider this: More than 500 different kinds of bacteria grow in your mouth, and they constantly work to form plaque, a colorless film that causes unsightly tartar buildup. Left untreated, that plaque and tartar creates the perfect environment for bacteria to invade your mouth and cause gum infections such as gingivitis, or the more serious periodontitis. And that’s where the trouble really begins.

The Gum-Heart Connection

When an infection in your mouth spreads into your bloodstream, it creates inflammation throughout your body. That inflammation can damage blood vessels, including those in your heart. It may also cause a thickening of the carotid arteries, interfering with blood flow to the brain. Gum disease increases your risk of heart disease by at least 72 percent and your risk of stroke by about 300 percent. That’s not to say that gum disease alone is going to doom you — most doctors agree that lifestyle choices heavily factor into the equation. But the bottom line is that taking care of your mouth helps minimize extra risks to your heart.

Oral Health and Diabetes

If you’re a diabetic, then you’re at a higher risk of developing gingivitis or periodontitis than people without diabetes. Gum disease can, in turn, make it harder for you to keep your blood sugar in check by causing insulin resistance. Gum disease can also contribute to the onset of diabetes. The inflammation response caused by severe gum disease can create insulin resistance syndrome and the destruction of key cells in the pancreas, which leads to the development of diabetes.

Gum Disease and Premature Births

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that up to 18 percent of preterm, low birth weight babies born every year in the U.S. may be linked to an oral infection. In theory, the bacteria in an infected mouth may release toxins that go through the mother’s bloodstream and into the placenta, where they can interfere with fetal development and growth. Additionally, oral infections may cause pregnant mothers to produce labor-inducing substances, which could bring on premature delivery.

Now that you know more about the potential dangers that tooth and gum problems can pose to the rest of your body, make an appointment with Klement Family Dental. Whether you need preventive care, cosmetic dentistry, or another solution to a dental problem, we’re here to help. Visit stpetedentist.com, or call us today at 727-498-1959 to make an appointment.