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Multiethnic parents giving children piggyback ride

What motivates you to brush and floss each day? Your goal may be to maintain a bright, white smile and healthy gums. You’re on the right track—good oral care helps prevent cavities and gum disease that could lead to chronic bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss. But the benefits of caring for your teeth and gums don’t end there.

By preventing gum disease, you can stave off a whole host of potential health problems. After all, the bacterial infection responsible for gum disease doesn’t stay in your mouth. It can spread to other parts of the body, causing everything from heart problems to respiratory diseases to pregnancy complications. Here are some illnesses you might prevent by taking care of your mouth.

  • Heart disease: High-risk oral bacteria produce chemicals that make the artery walls stickier and more permeable, making it easier for cholesterol to become embedded. The resulting plaque buildup leads to a dangerous form of heart disease called atherosclerosis.
  • Diabetes complications: Having diabetes weakens your immune system, increasing the likelihood of developing gum disease. Then, having gum disease worsens diabetes and makes blood sugar levels more difficult to control.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Excessive inflammation can lead to RA, a painful joint condition. Oral bacteria introduce inflammation throughout the body, increasing the risk of developing RA or other inflammatory diseases.
  • Respiratory infections: If you have gum disease, you inhale oral bacteria with every breath. Once in your lungs, the bacteria can raise your risk for pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Kidney disease: The oral bacteria associated with gum infections can lead to chronic kidney problems. Existing kidney disease also worsens if you develop gum disease.
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: Tartar buildup associated with gum disease releases substances that kill brain cells. Combined with the oral bacteria entering your nerve channels and bloodstream, your risk for memory loss and dementia increases.
  • Cancer: Gum disease raises the risk of certain cancers, especially those affecting the blood. This is possibly due to the inflammation oral bacteria introduces to the body.
  • Pregnancy complications: Gum disease is detrimental during pregnancy because it can affect the hormones progesterone and estrogen, leading to premature birth and low birth weight.

Prevent Illnesses with Good Oral Hygiene

Keep your mouth healthy to prevent gum disease and other illnesses by following these tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.
  • Chew sugarless gum after meals.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  • Schedule regular teeth cleanings.

For expert help taking care of your mouth, turn to Beyond Dentistry Laser Center in Brooklyn. Our general dentistry services include teeth cleanings, thorough oral checkups, and easy-to-follow home care instructions to help keep your teeth and gums healthy between dentist visits. For personalized oral care tips, or to schedule your next dentist appointment, please call us at 718-436-0202 or contact us online today.