Dangers of Poor Oral Hygiene: 11 Health Problems Caused By Poor Oral Health

poor oral hygiene

You’re probably familiar with the idea that poor oral hygiene damages your teeth, gums, and tongue. Did you know that it can also cause health problems such as heart disease, respiratory issues, and dementia?

At Peach Valley Dental, we see our fair share of patients who don’t understand the negative effects of not following proper dental care. We consider it our duty and pleasure to educate our patients on good dental hygiene to improve their quality of life.

Let’s take a look at 11 of the most common health problems caused by poor oral health.

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease causes 25% of American deaths every year, according to the CDC. There are many reasons you might develop heart disease, but it might surprise you that poor dental health can be one of them.

 If you don’t properly care for your teeth, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria. As that bacteria attacks your gums and weakens your teeth, it may also find its way into your bloodstream.

Plaque and bacteria can hitch a ride into your cardiovascular system through inflamed gums, causing your arteries to harden. This hardening of the arteries makes it more difficult for blood to pass through your veins, which can lead to heart disease.

2. Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health condition that requires constant care and attention. If you already have diabetes, then you are more at risk of developing oral diseases such as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a gum infection that can spread to and damage your teeth and jawbone. Periodontal disease also makes it more difficult to control your blood sugar.

 Even if you are not currently diabetic, periodontal disease can still cause blood sugar issues that may trigger the condition.

 

diabetes

 

3. Strokes

Plaque building up in your cardiovascular system can cause more problems than heart disease. As plaque collects in your veins, a blood clot may form and eventually release into your bloodstream. If the clot is large enough to block blood flow to the brain, you may suffer a stroke.

Strokes are caused by a loss of oxygen when blood cannot reach portions of your brain. While some strokes can be deadly, survivors often live with debilitating side effects such as partial paralysis, difficulty speaking, and mental or emotional instability. 80% of strokes are avoidable, so practicing good oral hygiene is a great way to lower your risk of suffering from one.

4. Oral Cancer

Smoking and chewing tobacco are major factors in the development of oral cancer. Tobacco causes damage to your oral health, such as gum disease, periodontal disease, and advanced tooth decay. That damage, especially if left unchecked, helps set the stage for the beginnings of oral cancer.

However, even after the development of oral cancer, you can offset its effects by recommitting to good oral health practices to reverse cavities and tooth decay.

5. Alzheimer’s and Dementia

While not the sole cause of mental deterioration, bad oral hygiene practices contribute to the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Studies show that the bacteria that grow due to poor oral hygiene can make their way to your brain through your bloodstream, where they can build up and influence negative effects in your brain.

 

high blood pressure

 

6. High Blood Pressure

A 2018 study found that bad oral hygiene contributes to high blood pressure.

Researchers found that difficult-to-treat patients with high blood pressure were more likely to have periodontal disease. Patients who did not have periodontal disease responded better to high blood pressure treatments.

7. Problems During Pregnancy

Some of the above health concerns, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, directly affect women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

This is in part because of the hormones produced by women during pregnancy. These hormones make it more likely that women will experience tooth decay and dental caries, both of which can release bacteria into the bloodstream and increase the chances of premature birth or problems during pregnancy.

8. Infertility

A safe and healthy pregnancy starts with conception. However, health issues stemming from poor oral hygiene, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can make conception more difficult.

 

respiratory issues including pneumonia

 

9. Respiratory Issues Including Pneumonia

Just as the brain and cardiovascular system are affected by poor dental hygiene, your lungs are also at risk.

When you inhale, bacteria in your mouth can enter the lungs, leading to an infection in your lungs. Due to this, you may develop pneumonia or suffer complications from ongoing respiratory ailments such as lung disease.

10. Kidney Disease

Bacteria can also make their way to your kidneys. As part of your immune system, your kidneys are especially susceptible to infection.

Kidneys that are overworked develop kidney disease, which can then lead to kidney failure. Other factors caused by poor dental hygiene, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can also damage your kidneys.

11. Rheumatoid Arthritis

The bacteria resulting from poor dental hygiene tends to cause the common symptom of inflammation.

This inflammation is the same symptom seen in the painful and sometimes debilitating disease rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, developing one can help develop the other, so those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should pay special attention to their dental care.

 

dentist in decatur ga

 

How to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

If you are concerned about preventing the side effects of bad dental hygiene, developing good dental habits is the best step to take. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth and paying more attention to the food and drinks you consume.

You’ll also want to schedule regular dental appointments and make sure that you have dental cavities and gum disease treated as soon as possible.

Peach Valley Dental understands that improving poor oral hygiene habits often means dealing with dental anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety about the dentist, we invite you to come to our office and feel the difference that our team makes!

Please give us a call at 404-254-5196 to learn more about how we can help you have a safe, comfortable, and positive experience while improving your dental hygiene.

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