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Oral Care

What Your Dental Health Says About You

Common oral problems have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature birth, and more.
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Oral Health and Heart Disease continued...

Recent analysis suggests that common oral problems could increase the risk of cardiac problems. Indra Mustapha, DDS, a periodontist who teaches at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues analyzed the results of other research studies and found that periodontal disease with signs of bacterial exposure was associated with greater risk of heart disease.

The American Heart Association states, "At this time, promoting dental treatment expressly to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and/or acute cardiovascular events is not recommended."

Oral Health and Premature Birth

"Ob-gyns always knew that preterm and low-birth-weight births could be triggered by infections in the body," says Karabin. "They looked for urinary tract infections and throat infections, but never really thought about the mouth until a periodontic researcher looked into it."

Karabin says that severe periodontal disease in the mother may lead to an increase in the risk of premature birth. Remember those cytokines? Turns out they also increase the level of the hormone prostaglandin, which triggers labor, says Karabin. Fortunately, studies show that early treatment of gum disease and improved oral hygiene in women can reduce their risk of premature birth.

Other conditions that indicate a link between dental health and overall health include:

  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis and tooth loss often go hand in hand because the same decrease in mineral density that boosts the risk of hip and other fractures affects the jawbone and teeth. Measures taken to prevent or treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women are likely to also help prevent severe gum disease, Genco says.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. A study released in June 2008 found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were nearly eight times more likely to have periodontal disease. RA, like periodontal disease, is an inflammatory disorder, which may help explain the link, Karabin says.
  • Alzheimer's disease. A 2005 study of identical twins showed that in twin pairs where one had dementia and the other didn't, the ones with dementia were four times more likely to have gum disease by midlife. The study doesn't say that good oral heath prevents Alzheimer's, but that inflammation early in life can have severe consequences later.

 

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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