Oral hygiene is very important for our health in general, as poor oral hygiene can result in dental and medical problems such as halitosis, gingivitis, tooth loss and diabetes. Furthermore, it is now known that there are other not so well-known consequences of prolonged poor dental hygiene that can lead to even more serious conditions, such as:
Several studies have shown a link between chronic kidney disease and periodontal disease, affirming that people who have periodontal problems are more prone to kidney disease. In addition, the risk increases with age. Some researchers have even maintain that “Poor dental hygiene is more likely to cause chronic kidney disease than high cholesterol.”
Multiple studies have suggested that there could be a link between gum disease and heart disease, both associated with inflammation. Among those conditions related to periodontal disease and the cardiovascular system are bacterial endocarditis, heart attacks, ischemic cardiomyopathy, thrombosis, coronary insufficiency and varicose veins.
In the case of endocarditis, the microorganisms and bacteria of the periodontal disease pass into the bloodstream and settle in defective heart valves that have been previously damaged, causing swelling in the inner lining of the heart.
The relationship between periodontal disease and respiratory illnesses is inevitable once there is a weakening of the immune system. The most frequent associated illnesses are bacterial pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung abscess. In the case of pneumonia, the passage of bacteria from the mouth to the lungs due to inhalation is well known, this being the reason why hospitals look after their patients’ dental hygiene in order to avoid them developing hospital-acquired pneumonia. An important study shows that this type of measure by hospitals reduced the incidence of this disease by 40%. Another significant study carried out on 315 patients discovered that patients with periodontal disease were three times more likely to suffer from pneumonia.
Although it may seem incredible, there is also a link between oral health and erectile dysfunction (impotence) related to Vitamin D deficiency and smoking.
A study which was carried out on rats confirmed that periodontal disease caused problems of erection and, although it was not clear whether this was the case in humans, another study was carried out involving a group of patients between 30-40 years old which showed that 53% of those who suffered from erectile dysfunction also had severe periodontal disease, compared to just 23% who did not have periodontal disease. The researchers concluded that it was well worth considering that periodontal disease could cause erectile dysfunction in patients.
A long-term study that has been carried out suggests a link between poor oral health and dementia, although it must be said that it is possible that a person who has better dental hygiene also has better life habits in general. The researchers followed 5468 persons during a period of 18 years and discovered that – amongst those who still had teeth – those who admitted to not brushing their teeth daily had between 22%-65% more risk of developing dementia than those who brushed their teeth three times a day. At the same time, the study found that the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s showed more bacteria associated with gum disease than those of people who were cognitively healthy.
Frequently caused by bacterial infections, an abscess is an accumulation of pus surrounded by inflammation and swelling. Brain abscesses are not very common and there is no systematic study that links them to poor dental hygiene. However, research has recently been published which shows that brain abscesses do point to poor oral hygiene as the probable cause.
How much importance do you think should be put on dental hygiene? A visit to the dentist for a dental check-up could prevent all the aforementioned problems and more. Take advantage of what Dental Tourism can offer, finally having the time to get that check-up done. Contact us for more details on all the dental treatment available in the Canary Islands.