Good Oral hygiene is a step towards a healthier body. Recent studies have shown the connection between gum disease and other systemic health problems. There is evidence that the bacteria in the mouth which are associated with gum disease may be linked to heart disease, artery blockage and stroke. Gum disease is an infection than destroys the bone and supporting tissues of the teeth. Oral hygiene and routine visits to the dentist will help control the plaque and tarter that harbor the bacteria that are responsible for gum disease.
Research has also found that bacteria from the mouth, including those associated with gum disease, can be a contributing factor in bacterial pneumonia. Maintaining good oral hygiene is especially important for patients that are susceptible to developing bacterial pneumonia, including the elderly and immune compromised patients.
Pregnant women with gum disease may be at an increased risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn also increases their risk of having a low-birth-weight baby. During pregnancy, the hormones levels in the body increase and may result in “pregnancy gingivitis.” These hormones can cause the body to have an exacerbated immune response to oral bacteria, leading to inflamed gum tissues.
Patients with diabetes who have or develop gum disease have been shown to have more difficulty in controlling their blood sugars. Furthermore, if the periodontal disease is treated in diabetics, their blood sugar control can improve.
Although more studies are needed, researchers suspect that the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease play a role in these systemic health problems. Given the links between the bacteria that cause gum disease and other systemic diseases, prevention of periodontal disease is an important link to maintaining overall health. Blue Cross Blue Shield recently has started offering dental plans to their clients to maintaining their members’ overall health and assists them in reducing increasing health care costs.