Good dental health = good overall health

National Smile Month 2013 is running until June 20 and throughout the campaign we’ve been posting key information about the importance of good dental health.

Today’s post focuses on important health issues highlighted in the campaign’s website.

The campaign – organised by The British Dental Health Foundation – makes it clear that poor oral health is not just about toothache and decay.

The organisers state: “It has a much wider impact on general bodily health than you may think. Research over the past decade has revealed growing evidence linking poor oral health to serious health conditions.”

Here are some of the conditions they’ve highlighted – and why dental health is so important.

Heart disease and heart attacks

Gum disease has been linked to many diseases and illnesses within the body, and research suggests an increased likelihood of suffering a heart attack being one of them. This is thought to be as a result of the bacteria from the mouth getting into the bloodstream. The bacteria then go on to produce protein, which can affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart, making clots more likely to form.

Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs. If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack. As a result, people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as those without gum disease.

Strokes

New research suggests that gum disease carries a higher risk of causing a stroke than diabetes, and its impact is nearly the equivalent of high blood pressure as a major cause of strokes. People are twice as likely to suffer a non-fatal stroke as a result of gum disease, compared to diabetes. The data also suggests its impact is equivalent to people having high blood pressure.

New research is also suggestive that how much preventative dental care you have is linked to the chances of a stroke. Study participants who had ever had their teeth cleaned had a 24 per cent decreased risk of heart attack and a 13 per cent lower stroke risk compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning.

Not only did dental cleanings reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year, meaning that the more often people had their teeth cleaned, the lower their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general.

People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk. If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.

Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before dental treatment.

New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.

Pregnancy and oral health

Pregnant women who have gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is premature and with a low birth weight. Research suggests bacteria in the oral cavity reaches the amniotic fluid via the bloodstream and can induce early labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.

Should you have any questions about this post or would like to contact our Glasgow dental clinic please call us on 0141 339 7579.