Speaking of osteoporosis, if you already have this condition, oral hygiene is extremely important, since bone loss is as likely to occur in the jaw than anywhere else. Some sources state that the risk of tooth loss is up to three times higher for women with osteoporosis.
Research is beginning to link gum disease with the risk of developing heart disease, but this connection has not yet been completely established. There may be a link between oral bacteria, inflammation, and plaque buildup in the blood vessels, but this potential link is still being investigated.
It is well known that smoking cigarettes can cause tooth discoloration, but some sources state that an enormous percentage of smokers over age 65 are edentulous (without teeth). Smoking also increases the risk of bone loss in the jaw, gum tissue damage, as well as oral sores and cancers.
Pregnancy and Birth
Although the link is not yet fully established, there is growing evidence that gum disease during pregnancy can contribute to low birth weight and prematurity.
Some studies suggest that tooth prior to the age of 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Even though some of the research is not yet 100% conclusive, there is no doubt that gum disease and oral health are inextricably linked to overall health and specific body systems. Even if some of the research being conducted does not yield absolute evidence, the indisputable links between oral health and cardiovascular, bone and heart health are enough to make almost anyone pick up some floss and a toothbrush without hesitation.
Good dental hygiene simply makes sense, and the fact that more and more connections are being made between oral health and other aspects of health underscores what dentists and dental hygienists have been telling us for years. Their recommendations include:
• Brushing after each meal, or at least two times per day
• Flossing once daily
• Having regular dental checkups and prophylactic cleanings
• Eating a healthy diet
• Changing your toothbrush three to four times per year