We’ve all heard how precious our teeth are. Right?
What we might not have heard is how cavity protection influences other parts of our bodies. Like the heart. Or the brain.
Trust us: those cute little pearls are more important than you think.
Do you have cavities? Are you letting them go to save money? If so, read this article to discover why you shouldn’t let your cavities continue to worsen.
A cavity is formed when plaque builds on a tooth, eating away at the enamel and exposing the inner pulp that contains the blood vessels and nerves.
While many assume this process is only related to the teeth, the buildup of bacteria and toxins damage the outer gums. Ignoring these cavity signs leads to gum disease. Periodontitis, or gum disease, occurs when small pockets between the gum and the bone collect debris and become infected.
This inflammation and collection of bacteria eventually lead to other issues throughout the body. Even the CDC acknowledges that recent studies demonstrate the link between periodontitis and chronic conditions.
Effects on the Body
From the heart to a newborn child, the bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease can wreak havoc throughout an individual’s body. If you want to avoid these eight conditions, protecting your teeth is a great starting point.
1. The Heart
Your honey might not go breaking your heart, but bacteria in the mouth can. Recent evidence points out periodontal disease, which is spurred by ignoring cavities, causes up to a 19% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers are still scrambling to understand the clear link between heart disease and periodontitis. Most believe the inflammation in the mouth spreads to the blood vessels, creating higher blood pressure. The pressure increases the likelihood that plaque is loosened from the vessels’ walls and makes its way to the heart.
Additionally, new research has uncovered a link between periodontitis and lacunar infarct, a cerebral small vessel disease that leads to strokes.
2. The Brain
Bacteria in the mouth can even affect the brain.
The buildup of toxins within gums and on teeth can lead to infection, which spreads throughout the body. Scientists believe once these toxins reach the brain, it triggers an immune response.
The body kills off brain cells to remain healthy, contributing to memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Blood Sugar
A great body of evidence proves blood sugar is also affected by improper oral treatment.
When the gums are inflamed, it impacts the body’s ability to regulate and utilize insulin. Insulin is what our bodies use to convert sugar into energy. Without it, an individual becomes diabetic.
In fact, uncontrolled diabetes is frequently associated with periodontal disease. The inflammation of the vessels, blood sugar levels and insulin are so inextricably linked one has far-reaching impacts on the other.
Weight loss may sound like a great thing, but it’s not if it occurs too quickly.
When cavities are left to their own devices, the plaque decays the tooth. The decay exposes the nerve endings, resulting in extreme sensitivity and pain when eating. If preventative measures aren’t taken, the tooth must be pulled.
Consequently, it may come as no surprise that the pain results in less eating. However, sudden weight loss comes with its own adverse effects, including a change in bone density. When weight isn’t shed healthily, the bones weaken.
In addition, untreated periodontitis permits bacteria to eat away at an individual’s jaw bone. Scientists hypothesize that the inflammation caused by infections stimulate the osteoclast cells, leading to osteoporosis.
5. The Immune System
The toxins in the mouth have direct access to the bloodstream. Anytime a person has an infection, the body is stressed. With advanced cavities and gum disease, the body responds to the infection over an extended period of time.
If unattended, the stress on the immune system leads to a weakened immunity against other infections and diseases.
6. Pregnancy Outcomes
Gum disease also affects infants within the womb and children who are breastfeeding.
Studies indicate periodontitis may lead to several maternal conditions:
- Maternal infection
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Microbiological and immunological factors
So gum disease isn’t just bad for you–it’s bad for your baby too!
7. The Respiratory System
Periodontal disease is a recognized risk factor in respiratory infections, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The danger, again, lies in the toxins in the mouth. When an individual breathes in, they involuntarily inhale the bacteria into their lungs, creating the foundation for an infection.
8. The Kidneys
Likewise, periodontitis is also a risk factor for chronic kidney disease. The inflammation produced directly affects serum albumin levels. In turn, these levels affect the severity of chronic kidney disease.
In treating oral hygiene, the quality of life may be positively influenced.
Undergoing Cavity Protection
In preventing cavities and practicing healthy oral hygiene, you protect the rest of your body from other serious conditions.
So how do you avoid cavities? It takes behavior modifications and healthy habits, but anyone can beat the plaque.
Brushing and Flossing
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is the most important way to avoid plaque buildup. Brushing removes bacteria and plaque from teeth, preventing the buildup of tartar.
Avoid brushing after eating acidic foods, as this damages the enamel. Instead, brush before these meals.
Flossing is equally important. Interdental cleaning allows individuals to reach in between the teeth or in places brush bristles can’t reach, discouraging bacteria formation.
Everyone knows avoiding sugary foods will help individuals avoid tooth decay, but did you know certain foods and beverages can aid in cavity prevention tactics?
Studies show that cheese, for instance, is particularly effective at reducing plaque. Researchers believe this is due to the food’s high pH levels. The levels increase calcium and encourage saliva, both of which aid in rehardening enamel.
Other foods and drinks that discourage cavities include the following:
- Sugar-free gum with xylitol
- Green and black tea
- Red wine
Who knew that glass of merlot was good for your teeth?
Dentists can spot the start of cavities and take measures to halt the decay before it gets out of hand. Furthermore, yearly cleanings ensure any plaque that has slipped through your bristles can be cleared away without further damage. If necessary, fluoride treatments are supplied to strengthen teeth.
Advances in technology allow dentists to garner an overall perspective on your mouth’s health. Better cavity detection and 3D printing make preventative and reactive measures more convenient than ever, which is why regular visits to the dentist are a must for avoiding cavities.
Soon, dentists may even be able to use a drug that regrows your tooth.
A Healthy Smile for a Healthy Heart
Cavity protection, it seems, is becoming realized as a preventative method in a host of serious conditions. By encouraging oral hygiene, individuals may find their overall health improved.
But fighting cavities isn’t the only thing a dentist can do. Read our article to read all about 10 dental secrets every patient should know.