We’ve all heard of the mind-body connection — the idea that a person’s mental, emotional and physical health are all intertwined. But what about the mouth-body connection? In this post, we’ll look at a few unexpected health risks that may be associated with poor oral hygiene and how your local Applecross dentist can help.
Studies have shown that chronic inflammation of the gums (due to gum disease) is associated with cardiovascular problems including heart disease. Not only that, the same correlation exists between gum health and blockages in blood vessels, which means that poor oral hygiene is also connected to stroke.
It’s important to note this is only a correlation, and researches stop short of saying that gum disease actually leads to cardiovascular problems. However, the correlation likely exists for a reason, and it’s probably safe to say that the practices which lead to gum disease also have a bearing on (or are in some way connected to) heart health.
In another study on gingivitis, it was found that pregnant women with poor gum health were more likely to give birth prematurely to underweight babies. This is another highly speculative correlation that requires more research before we fully understand it. But again, the additional potential risks associated with gingivitis simply drive home how important it is to prioritise oral health. This is all the more pertinent given the low cost of regular brushing, flossing and check-ups with your Applecross dentist.
This has to be one of the most counterintuitive findings in this list, but there’s heaps of scientific evidence to back it up. In particular, a 2012 study examined joint fluid in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. What they found was the fluid in several of the patients contained gum bacteria — which, by all rights, shouldn’t have been there. In a couple of the cases, the gum bacteria found in the joint fluid was a genetic match for that found in the same patient’s mouth. In other words, that was definitely their own gum bacteria found in their joint.
Bacteria in the joints can exacerbate arthritis. It can also lead to significant complications for those who have undergone joint replacement. Keeping the mouth clean can certainly do no harm for those with joint problems. Likewise, your dentist may recommend that you take care when flossing to avoid bleeding, which could introduce gum bacteria to the blood stream.
Here’s another unusual correlation. A study found that adults with gingivitis underperformed on memory tests, along with other cognitive assessments. Specifically, it found that the test subjects exhibited poor performance on verbal recall and, oddly enough, arithmetic (subtraction, in particular).
The test also looked specifically at older adults, and it’s not known if the same correlations exist in younger subjects. Regardless, gingivitis is bad enough as it is, and this finding only underscores the importance of keeping your gums healthy with antiseptic mouthwash and regular brushing.
Fortunately, staying ahead or problems in oral hygiene is easy. If you’d like to schedule a check-up, you can book an appointment online or call us on 08 9316 3622.
^Insured patients should contact their health insurer to discuss their health fund rebates for proposed dental treatment.
*Please note that due to legal obligations all new patients must have an initial examination with their first scale and clean.