Could your oral health be putting your overall health at risk?

While we were all taught right from childhood that we should brush and floss every day, it’s something which all-too-often falls away if you’re busy. But what if not brushing and flossing could be significantly shortening your life? Back in 2007, the World Health Organization acknowledged that our oral health is intrinsically linked to our overall health. In fact, poor oral health has been linked to a whole raft of nasty health issues including diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Let’s take a closer look.

Diabetes and gum disease

Going back a few years, it was thought that having diabetes increased your risk factor for periodontal disease. It is true that having diabetes does make you more susceptible to periodontal disease due to it lowering your body’s ability to fight off infection, but more recent studies have found that the opposite is also true and gum disease can increase your risk of diabetes. Periodontal disease, which is advanced gum disease, can cause you body’s levels of the inflammatory cytokine and serum lipids to rise. These can then cause an insulin resistance syndrome, which can start to destroy your body’s pancreatic beta cells, and result in diabetes.

When your gum tissue is inflamed, it also makes it harder for your body to control its blood sugar levels.

There is some evidence that by simply treating and controlling periodontal disease, whereby reducing the inflammation in the mouth, it may be possible to have a positive effect on diabetes.

Alzheimer’s disease and gum disease

Research conducted by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that poor oral health and the gum disease which normally comes with it could put individuals at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

When gum tissue in inflamed, it can cause immune cells to swell and allow the bacteria which live in your mouth to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If this bacteria reaches the brain, it can trigger the body’s natural immune system response, just like it would in your mouth, and set off a chain reaction which results in the kinds of changes to the brain which are typically seen in Alzheimer’s disease sufferers.

Heart disease and gum disease

Similar to Alzheimer’s, the inflammation caused by the infections caused by oral bacteria can increase your risk of developing heart disease. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart, causing a condition known as atherosclerosis. This then causes plaque to develop on the inner walls of the arteries, decreasing or even blocking blood flow. If this occurs, it significantly increases your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is Australia’s number one killer.  It accounted for 43,603 deaths in 2013 alone; that’s one death every 12 minutes.

Good oral health helps promote good overall health

As you can see, gum disease has far worse knock-on effects than just the risk of losing your teeth. But, by ensuring your oral health is always in tip-top condition, you might be able to avoid the onset of these very serious conditions altogether. Where’s the floss?!

Burleigh Waters Dental Care – you partner in good health

At Burleigh Waters Dental Care, we are dedicated to providing you with the quality dental care you need to keep your oral and overall health the very best it can be. If you would like to request a consultation with one of our friendly team, get in contact today.


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