Beyond Tooth Decay: Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

importance-good-oral-health

Oral health is not an independent entity cut off from the rest of the body. Rather, it is woven deeply into the fabric of overall health.”

The part of the human body which has to bear brunt of negligence to the greatest is Oral cavity or mouth. Still people are indifferent towards keeping good oral health owing to ignorance and or lack of awareness. We always correlate the poor oral hygiene with tooth decay, gum diseases and bad breath. However, fact is human mouth contain millions of microbes of more than 700 species and their genes, which can have a toll on your over all health.

Human mouth is not sterile even under normal circumstances, small quantity of bacteria migrates from mouth to body but barrier systems in mouth are enough to inhibit and eliminate bacteria. But, anyhow ,if this state of equilibrium is disturbed by oral infections, bacterias multiple and rise tremendously and may cause more serious illnesses or at-least may give to the progression of systemic diseases.

How can Poor Oral Hygiene cause Systemic Diseases?

  • Biofilms or plaque act as reservoirs of  bacteria and inflammatory mediators.
  • Dissemination of these oral bacteria (i.e. bacteremia)  and/or their products into body to distant body site.

Cardiovascular Disorders (CVD) or Heart Diseases

CVDs are a group of diseases that include congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease (including atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction), valvular heart disease and stroke.

Pathogenic bacterias in gum diseases may trigger the production of inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6, which can accelerate the progression of pre-existing atherosclerotic plaques. On other hand these bacterias may induce platelet aggregation and the formation of atheroma.

Diabetes Due to Poor Oral Health

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by increased levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia). Basically two reasons of  Diabetes : deficiency in the secretion of insulin and reduced insulin activity (insulin resistance).

Diabetes can effect each and every vital organ of the body. It is associated with five major complications: retinopathy neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular complications and delayed wound healing. Gum infections (periodontal diseases)  represents the sixth complication of Diabetes mellitus associated with poor blood sugar control resulting in a two-way relationship between diabetes mellitus and periodontal disease or infection.

Also Read: Lesser Known Facts about Diabetes and Poor Oral Health

Diabetes mellitus patients have defect in the defence cells of body any inflammation in the cell would have exaggerated response to bacteria and their products. Also there is risk  of delayed wound healing as cells involved in healing , fibroblast, are defective.

Periodontal disease is associated with increased levels of proinflammatory mediators : C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-1, fibrinogen and TNF-α. In untreated cases these mediators increase insulin resistance thus worsening glycemic control.

Adverse Pregnancy Outcome due to Poor Oral Health

LBW is defined, according to the international definition established by the World Health Organisation in 1976, as a birth weight lower than 2500 g.

Four organisms associated with mature plaque and progressing periodontitis, Bacteroides forsythusP. gingivalisA. actinomycetemcomitans, and Treponema denticola, are detected at higher levels in mothers of preterm low-birth-weight infants than in controls.

We have written a separate article on Risk of Poor Oral Health in Pregnancy to the Baby.

Alzheimer’s Diseases or Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease associated with elderly age group. The incidence of AD significantly increases with age, reaching almost 50% in subjects aged 85 years.

Periodontitis is also considered to be one of the probable risk factors for AD.  According to the first mechanism, periodontal microorganisms and the host response cause an increase in the levels of proinflammatory cytokines which are capable of neurodegenerative changes.

Second mechanism: direct invasion of brain by microorganisms present in the dental plaque biofilm. These microorganisms and their products elicit an inflammatory mechanism within the CNS.

Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases is the term for diseases of the respiratory system, including lung, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, and upper respiratory tract. They range from a common cold to life-threatening conditions such as bacterial pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The oral cavity is contiguous with the trachea and may be a portal for respiratory pathogen colonization. Among the oral bacterial species implicated in pneumonia are A. actinomycetemcomitans ,Actinomyces israelii, Capnocytophaga spp,  Eikenella corrodens , Prevotella intermedia, and Streptococcus constellatus.

Other Systemic Diseases Associated with Poor Oral Health are:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Colorectal cancer,
  • Inflammatory bowel disease,
  • Osteoporosis
  • Erectile dysfunction,
  • Kidney diseases

Good News: Gum Disease are Easily Preventable

  • Just need to develop good dental habits
  • Quit smoking , alcohol, paan, gutka, khani, any form of tobacco
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice per day, floss daily, twice daily
  • Do not forget to visit your dentist regularly

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