There is much evidence to prove the risk that goes with poor oral health. Damage to overall health can happen quickly if oral health concerns are ignored. For example, when oral infections spread throughout the body, they can raise the risks for heart disease and diabetes.

How Plaque Gets Around

man in a dental chair

When oral infections spread through the body, they raise the risks for problems in other areas.

Food particles stick to your teeth when you eat. These attract bacteria. Unless you brush and floss each day, the bacteria turn into plaque and that turns into tartar, which may lead to gum disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include bad breath, painful chewing, sensitive teeth, or swollen gums. Any of these should prompt you to see a dentist. They will be able to tell if gum disease is present, and they can remove any tartar that has formed.

Without dental care, though, tiny pockets can form between your teeth and gums. Then, as more bacteria gets in, the pockets may grow worse. Finally, the oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream.

Heart Disease

Once they enter your blood, bacteria can inflame other parts of your body. For example, if you are at risk for heart disease, your heart could find it hard to relax and contract as needed.

Scientists have confirmed oral bacteria’s link with heart attack. And they have reported that when plaque s is scraped away by a dentist, the heart works better.


Once they enter your bloodstream, oral bacteria can also cause glucose levels to skyrocket. This failure to process sugar can be hazardous to diabetics and pre-diabetic alike.

However, studies show when dentists remove plaque the blood sugar levels return closer to normal.

Stroke and Alzheimer’s

The effect of oral bacteria on the brain is very similar to its effect on the heart. It makes the brain’s vessels more vulnerable to developing plaque, which is the key factor for a stroke.

In 2016, British researchers monitored Alzheimer’s patients and saw that those with gum disease experienced mental deterioration six times faster than those with healthier gums. Alzheimer’s patients are also more likely to suffer from poor oral health because they forget daily habits like brushing teeth.

Doctors and Oral Health

More and more, doctors ask their patients about dental visits before drawing conclusions or moving forward with operations, according to Men’s Journal.

When was the last time you had a dental cleaning?

Cardiologist Melvyn Rubenfire, for example, schedules dentist appointments for patients going into surgery in order to eliminate the risk of complications from oral infections.

Harvard endocrinologist William Hsu tells his diabetic patients their worries about glucose levels will decline significantly if they see the dentist every six months. When he observes a rise in blood glucose, his first question to the patient is, “When was the last time you had a dental cleaning?”

Read Next: 5 Positive Oral Health Benefits | The benefits of seeing your dentist every six months stretch far beyond simply having healthier, better-looking teeth.

Dental health screenings can help keep you healthy from head to toe.

Dental health screenings can help keep you healthy from head to toe.

One of the great benefits of having a good dental insurance plan is that regular appointments for teeth cleaning and oral exams are covered. One big reason for this is that insurance companies know a focus on prevention can actually help an individual lower their future costs for dental repairs.

But there’s another reason why your dentist and oral hygienist want to see you twice a year: to help keep you healthy from head to toe.

During a routine visit to the dentist, several serious diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) can be detected. If you’re like many people, there’s a good chance you see your dental hygienist more frequently than you see your general practitioner.

So how great is it that dental hygienists are trained to screen their patients for signs and symptoms that may indicate problems in other parts of the body?

Pretty great.

In fact, during a dental health screening, a trained oral health practitioner can spot over 120 signs and symptoms of non-dental diseases.

…a trained oral health practitioner can spot over 120 signs and symptoms of non-dental diseases.

If that sounds like it would be time consuming, well, it is. Trying to fit an oral hygiene exam, scaling and polishing, and a doctor exam into a one hour appointment can be a major challenge.

Early detection and prompt referrals

The good news is: the more frequently you have your teeth professionally cleaned, the less time your hygienist will need to spend scaling and polishing your teeth, and the more time will be available for your oral care team to devote to overall health screening, early detection of any concerns, and prompt referral to a primary care provider.

If all you want is a brighter smile, then that may sound like it’s a waste of time.

But if you ask them, your dentist and oral hygienist will very likely tell you they have a bigger goal in mind for you: keeping you healthy all over, so you’ll have every reason to smile.

Learn more about your oral health.

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For those affected by diabetes – almost 8% of the American population by some estimates – related health problems can complicate your life.  Potential circulatory, vision, kidney, and nerve issues require diabetics to carefully monitor their blood glucose levels and manage their disease. But periodontal disease, or gum disease, is also a significant related illness for diabetics to keep in mind.

Almost 8% of the American population is affected by diabetes.

Diabetes and periodontal disease can be prevented.

Periodontal disease in patients with inadequate blood sugar control is higher than in those with good control of their diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body regulates blood sugar (glucose). Diabetics have too much glucose in their blood and, left unmanaged, that condition can wreak havoc on many of the body’s delicate systems.

High glucose levels in saliva make diabetics particularly susceptible to periodontal disease. Bacteria can thrive in that glucose-rich environment, which leads to plaque, an acid-producing film that can permanently damage teeth and gums. Diabetes also lowers the body’s ability to fight infection, permitting periodontal disease to worsen rapidly.

These factors make it essential for diabetics to learn to manage their disease diligently. The incidence of periodontal disease in patients with inadequate blood sugar control is higher than in those with good control of their diabetes.

Warning signs and prevention

Warning signs of periodontal disease include the following:

•    Swollen, red, or tender gums that bleed easily
•    Gums that are receding from the teeth
•    Changes in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
•    Changes in the fit of partial dentures

Diabetes and periodontal disease are both manageable.

Left unchecked, periodontal disease can damage the gums and bone supporting the teeth and lead to tooth loss.

To further prevent periodontal disease, diabetics should:

•    Brush and floss their teeth daily
•    Schedule regular dental check ups and cleanings
•    Maintain a balanced and healthy diet, particularly with regard to blood sugar management
•    Communicate clearly with your dentist about your condition and whether or not it is under control

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) is a common condition among patients with diabetes. This also can lead to periodontal disease because saliva aids in the washing away of bacteria-producing food particles. Your dentist can recommend a saliva substitute as well as fluoride washes to compensate for a reduction in saliva.

Diabetes and periodontal disease are both manageable. By maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits, from cleaning to diet, diabetics can ensure a healthy defense against periodontal disease.

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