Dr Alex George reveals best time to brush your teeth
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A dentist has revealed the surprising ways not brushing properly can affect your general health – from breathing difficulties to blood poisoning. In fact serious conditions, such as strokes, heart and dementia among others, can all come from a lack of dental care. Dr Azad Eyrumlu, of private dental clinic Banning Dental Group, said: “It’s drilled into us from birth how keeping our teeth and gums in top shape is important for our oral health.
“However, many people won’t be aware of the wider health problems that can result from failing to maintain good oral hygiene.”
One of the key reasons why keeping our oral hygiene in check is because our mouths are home to millions of bacteria.
While most of them don’t pose a serious risk to our health, some nasty bacteria can enter our bloodstream through the gums.
“Our bodies are complex and various parts of our systems work closely with each other, even if we might not always realise it,” he added.
“For example, a mouth ulcer or impacted tooth can give nasty bacteria the perfect window to enter our bloodstreams, thus causing more problems down the line.
“It’s vital we all keep a close eye on our oral health and be on alert for the signs that something could be wrong.”
Here are five serious conditions that can stem from poor oral hygiene, according to Dr Eyrumlu:
Heart disease or stroke – studies from Harvard University have shown that people who have poor oral health have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as a heart attack or stroke.
There are two specific conditions connected to oral health – atherosclerosis where a build-up of fatty ‘plaque’ thickens the artery walls and reduces blood flow, and endocarditis, when an infection in the gums can pass into the bloodstream potentially infecting the inner lining of the heart.
Some bacteria carry proteins that promote clots that can clog arteries, leaving the heart at risk of an attack. Meanwhile, it can also clog the carotid artery that circulates blood to the head and brain, leaving us vulnerable to a stroke.
Respiratory problems – nasty bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it can aggravate our respiratory systems and affect our ability to breathe. Some studies have even pointed to a link between gum disease and pneumonia and bronchitis.
Maintaining consistent oral hygiene routines will help keep bacteria and plaque under control so that they are unable to spread into the respiratory system.
Sepsis – sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition where the body reacts aggressively to an infection and damages its own tissue. It can arise from untreated infections in the gum and can result in organ failure, blood poisoning, amputations and even death.
If an infection reaches the point of a swollen infected mass, it’s essential that you seek emergency attention to avoid the worst possible case scenario.
Dementia – dementia is the general term used to refer to cognitive problems which affect memory, interfere with how our brain functions and how we are able to interact with others.
Infections in the gum can release inflammatory substances that can aggravate the brain and lead to brain cell loss.
Other oral health problems that have been linked to dementia include gingivitis, tooth loss and dental cavities.
Digestive problems – the whole digestive system begins in our mouth when we eat food, and our teeth and saliva play a critical role in this process.
If for any reason your teeth are not able to break the food down into management morsels, the stomach and intestines are going to be under greater pressure to digest and process the nutrients that are required for the body.
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with toothpastes containing fluoride, as well as regular flossing and the use of mouthwash.
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