Why Good Oral Hygiene is Important
Most of us know that poor dental hygiene can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Good oral hygiene is important for just those reasons, but it goes beyond what’s in our mouths.
New York University (NYU) researchers conducted a small study involving senior citizens and found that those with gum disease at the age of 70 exhibited low scores for cognitive function. Inflammation of the gums has been associated with Alzheimer’s. Studies from other university and professional associations have supported these findings.
Once gum disease becomes established in the mouth, two of the three gum disease-causing bacteria are capable of motion and have been consistently found in the brain. One of the two gingivitis causing mobile bacteria (P. gingivalis) can travel to the brain directly by crawling up the nerves that connect the brain and the roots of teeth, or they can enter the brain through the blood circulation system. The bacteria can inadvertently damage functional neurons in the brain related to memory.
Another risk of poor oral hygiene to consider is heart disease. When gums are bleeding and you don’t have them examined right away, bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and stick to platelets, which can then form blood clots, interrupting the flow of blood to the heart and triggering a heart attack.
So how can we prevent these health threatening events. Practice consistent care of your teeth and gums. Brush at least twice a day, morning and evening. Floss after brushing, and rinse with mouthwash. If you find blood on your gums or in the sink after brushing that doesn’t go away in a day or so, contact your dentist immediately so he or she can evaluate the problem.