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5 Scary Health Effects Caused by Dirty Teeth

By Krista Elliott

Smiling can utterly transform a person's face, especially when the smile displays a dazzling set of healthy and strong teeth. Although genetics plays a big part in how our teeth look, we do have considerable control over their health. And this is definitely a good thing as poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and halitosis.

But did you know that neglecting the health of your mouth can affect your entire body? 

Your Mouth = A Welcome Mat for Bacteria

Take a look at some of the negative effects of not listening to our dental hygienist:

  • Heart Disease and Stroke -  Periodontal disease can lead to bacteria and other germs entering the bloodstream through the gums. This can cause infection or inflammation around the heart, as well as contribute to plaque buildup and clogged arteries.

  • Pregnancy and Birth Complications - Gingivitis can cause bacteria or infection from the mouth to enter the bloodstream and possibly reach the placenta.  This can cause damage and inflammation, resulting in obstetrical complications such as preeclampsia, preterm delivery, low birth weight, or pregnancy loss.  

  • Respiratory Problems - Bacteria from periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it can aggravate respiratory systems - especially in patients who suffer from a pre-existing lung condition.

  • Dementia - Gum infections, that lead to inflammation, may also affect the brain. The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is increased if brain cells are damaged.

  • Cancer - People with gum disease are more prone to cancers, including those affecting the pancreas, kidneys, and blood. Skipping dental visits may result in missing out on mouth and throat cancer screening. This is particularly important for smokers.

Brusha Brusha Brusha

So, what can you do to ensure that your teeth and gums are kept in the best condition possible?

  • Brush your teeth after every meal, or at least twice per day, with a soft toothbrush. Replace your brush every few months, or earlier if it gets frayed or you've been sick.

  • Floss regularly, preferably with a non-shredding waxed floss.

  • Don't forget to clean your tongue. Your toothbrush or a tongue scraper will do the trick.

  • If you use mouthwash, choose one without mouth-drying alcohol.

  • Eating plenty of crunchy fruits and veggies will help keep teeth clean and will also provide gum health-boosting vitamins.

  • Stay hydrated. A dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and halitosis. But choose water over tooth-staining drinks like tea, coffee, red wine, or dark sodas.

  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco.

  • Visit your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis for check-ups and cleanings. If your budget doesn't allow for regular dental visits, dental programs at colleges are often looking for patients for (supervised) students to practice on at drastically reduced rates. 

Taking care of your oral health is a great investment in your overall health, and for the most part, only takes a few minutes a day. So make sure to look after those pearly whites — don't worry, they'll return the favor. 


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