Looking after your teeth is becoming even more important, not only to prevent dental decay and gum disease, it could be helping to protect your general health too. More and more research is identifying possible links between periodontal disease (often known as gum disease) and systemic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and low birth weight or premature babies.
The association between diabetes and periodontal disease has often been referred to as the “sixth complication” of the disease. Patients who notice their gums bleed easily need to see their dentist and may need referral to a hygienist or periodontist. In diabetics, it is often linked to how well a person’s diabetes is under control. The relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular disease is not entirely clear but it appears that the inflammation surrounding the teeth may add to inflammation in other body systems. It has also been suggested that the bacteria, which can enter the bloodstream from the mouth, may contribute to fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels and the formation of clots. To keep your teeth, gums and body healthy: –
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss or use interdental brushes once a day.
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning. Provide your dentist with a complete health history, including any illnesses and medications.
- Eat a minimum of 5 portions of colourful fruits and vegetables a day, the benefits will support not only your oral health but your general health too.
- Cut refined sugars and starches to a minimum, this not only helps prevent dental decay, but also slows down plaque formation associated with bleeding gums, supports a healthier blood sugar balance and aids weight control.
- If you smoke, talk to your dentist/hygienist about options for quitting.