If you’re like millions of Americans, you probably find yourself with too little time to properly take care of your oral health. After all, with the late nights at the office, getting the kids home from practice and fed, or just trying to find some time for yourself, the day has become quite full already without trying to find the time to correctly brush and floss.
If your oral hygiene habits have gotten a little loose lately, you’re not alone. Studies conducted by the American Dental Association have found that 50 percent of adults in the U.S. fail to floss on a nightly basis, and 20 percent fail to brush twice a day. While you probably feel bad whenever you shrug and decide to put off flossing or brushing till tomorrow, the long-term ramifications of poor oral health may have you reconsidering that decision.
Taking care of the health of your teeth and gums is more than about preventing cavities or avoiding bad breath. Not only does the mouth acts as a gateway for the body, a number of studies in recent years have uncovered that an individual’s oral health can have a profound effect on their overall health.
So while failing to brush and floss daily will probably result in the development of decay and cavities, you could be increasing your risk for a number of far more serious chronic health problems by not brushing. With that in mind, here are 10 terrible things that happen when you don’t brush from your choice for family dentistry in SW Portland, Burlingame Dental Arts:
If you suffer from red, tender or swollen gums that bleed after brushing or flossing, you’re probably suffering from early stages of gum disease. The mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, causes inflammation, gum discoloration, tenderness, swelling and the aforementioned bleeding. Gingivitis has become such an issue that over half of all American suffer from the disease.
What makes gingivitis so problematic is that when left untreated it develops into periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease. Periodontal disease attacks the underlying tissue and bone structure that hold your teeth into position. Eventually the disease completely destroys your teeth’s foundation, leading to tooth loss. Considering the number of Americans with gingivitis, it’s little wonder that periodontal disease ranks as the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
While a steady diet of liverwurst and onion sandwiches will cause your breath to smell less than fresh, failing to brush and floss nightly also directly attributes to how fair or foul your breath smells. Bacteria in the mouth that contributes to the development of tooth decay also happens to be rather malodorous. Failing to brush allows foul smelling bacteria to build up, transforming your breath to a less than fresh state in the process. Similarly, food particles that remain trapped between your teeth begin to decay the longer they stay in the mouth. Needless to say, the word decay has never really been associated with springtime and roses, so you can imagine how not flossing can also affect your breath.
A recent long-term study involving residents at a retirement home found that individuals who suffer from poor oral health have a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. The study found that individuals who reported not brushing daily had between a 22 to 65 percent greater risk of developing dementia when compared to those who brushed daily.
When harmful pathogens remain in the mouth, you breathe them directly into your lungs, where they can cause all sorts of trouble. Research has suggested this link explains an existing increase between an individual’s oral health and pneumonia cases in hospital patients. In one study examining this correlation, researchers were able to decrease the number of patients suffering from pneumonia by 40 percent by improving oral health habits among all individuals admitted for treatment.
A collection of pus surrounded by swelling and inflammation, abscesses are often caused by bacterial infection. When left untreated in the brain, an abscess becomes a fatal condition. While brain abscesses are considered rare, researchers believe a correlation exists where periodontal disease can spread harmful bacteria to other parts of the body, potentially leading the development of an abscess.
Oral health experts have long understood that diabetes ranks as a risk factor for periodontitis, however, new research has begun to suggest that the relationship may actually be a two way connection; meaning that individuals with diabetes also have an increased risk of developing gum disease. Poor oral health may also make an individual more resistant to insulin and diabetes due to an increase of inflammation. Some research has even suggests that patients with diabetes may have a better chance of controlling the disease by improving their oral health.
Failing to brush daily leads to decay, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. If you don’t think that tooth loss should be a real concern, consider that adults between the ages of 20 to 64 lose an average of seven teeth. Approximately 10 percent of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 50 to 64 have no teeth left at all. So make sure you consider that long-term risks before deciding not to brush.
Approximately 3.7 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from kidney disease, but some find themselves at a higher risk than others. Individuals suffering from periodontal disease have a 4.5 times higher chance of developing kidney disease, which makes poor oral health a more reliable means of predicting the disease than high cholesterol.
A number of studies have suggested a possible link exists between an individual’s oral health and heart disease. While a cause and effect relationship has yet to be established, the authors of a 2008 review of the topic conducted by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended that gum disease be considered a risk factor for heart disease.
Complications with Pregnancy
Gingivitis affects between 60 to 75 percent of all pregnant women. Studies have shown that infants of women with poor oral health have a higher likelihood of developing cavities themselves when older. Oral health problems have also been linked to such pregnancy complications as low birth weight and premature delivery.