Dentists now know that poor oral hygiene is connected to more than just gingivitis and tooth loss. In fact, it is now understood that infections in your gums can lead to at least three other health conditions and potentially dozens of other medical problems. Here is what the medical and general dentist communities know thus far.
1. Gingivitis and Heart Disease
Elevated levels of a certain bacteria in the mouth correspond with heart disease and atherosclerosis. The theory is that the build-up of bacteria in the mouth spreads through the blood to the heart, where it multiplies and continues to spread to the veins and artery systems. The infection can get to the point where the heart is pumping hard and fast and trying to ward off illness, but instead gives out. If your doctor tells you that you are at high risk for heart disease and that you have plaque build-up in your arteries, start brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
2. Gingivitis and Pulmonary Problems
Infections of any kind force the body to work harder and breathe harder to fight them off. When your lungs are pushed to the limit because there is a severe infection in the body, they can temporarily quit, leaving you gasping for air. Stage three and stage four gingivitis produces enough infectious material and bacteria that you could develop a staff infection in your gums underneath your teeth. Your body's temperature elevates to fight that infection, and then your lungs and heart work harder to breathe, circulate blood, and bring your temperature down. Even if you get antibiotics and treatment for the infected gums, the damage to your lungs could be permanent.
3. Gingivitis and Sinus Infections
Although a sinus infection is less serious than lung or heart problems, anyone who suffers from chronic sinus infections will tell you otherwise. They are exceedingly painful and you cannot function or think clearly with the pressure in the middle of your face. Now, add a load of bacteria less than an inch below your sinuses--ouch! If you are not destroying the bacteria in your mouth, they have an easy path up to your nose where they could commingle with the bacteria that causes sinus infections. That is something you definitely do not want!
The Solution Is Simple
Prevent all of the above--including gingivitis--by seeing your general dentist, brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. At the very least, if you develop a medical condition with your lungs, heart, or sinuses, you'll know it has nothing to do with the health of your teeth and gums. Then your doctor and dentist can address these issues from another angl and help you live longer and healthier.