Poor oral health and gum disease puts you at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions. Keeping a healthy mouth keeps your body healthier.
More and more health conditions are being linked to your oral health as a result of bacteria and inflammation that occur in the mouth. An unhealthy mouth with a condition like gum disease can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and contribute to a wide range of chronic health problems, such as:
- Preterm birth. Severe gum disease may increase the risk of preterm delivery and giving birth to a low birth weight baby.
- Poorly controlled diabetes. If you have diabetes, you're at increased risk of developing gum disease. When gum disease becomes severe, it can make diabetes more difficult to control by causing insulin resistance, which reduces blood sugar control.
- Cardiovascular disease. Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) can play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. More and more evidence shows that bacteria in the mouth lead to inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries, which contributes to the buildup of artery-clogging plaque.
More than 45 percent of adults (64.7 million) 30 years and older have some form of gum disease, which increases their risk for other health problems.
Four Steps to Great Oral Health
Lower your risk for oral and chronic diseases with the Daily 4:
- Brush your teeth twice a day: Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush for two minutes. It's the most important step to reduce plaque and prevent gum disease.
- Floss every day: Daily flossing removes plaque and food particles that cannot be reached by a toothbrush.
- Eat healthy foods: Avoid sweets and sugary drinks, and avoid snacking between meals to reduce bacteria and acid damage in the mouth.
- Visit a dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning. Dentists can spot problem signs early, and help you stop them.
Warning Signs to Watch For
See your dentist if you notice any of these signs of gum or mouth infection:
- Painful gums
- Bleeding, swollen or tender gums
- Bad breath that won't go away
- Sores in your mouth