Good dental care not only keeps your mouth healthy, but also the rest of your body. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke and rheumatism.By Julia Skipper
Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and preferably using a toothpick after eating: all actions that you may follow well, but that you do not expect to be life-saving. Still, a clean mouth has bigger consequences for your body than you think.
“Chronic inflammation, especially gum disease, can have a major impact on your general health,” says Frank Abbas, professor emeritus of periodontology at the Center for Dentistry and Oral Hygiene of the UMCG. In such an inflammation, the gums leak from the inside, causing the bacteria under the gums to cause inflammation.
“Those bacteria easily penetrate the bloodstream and can settle in weak spots in this orbit, for example the heart or the brain. This can lead to blockages and an increased risk of, for example, a stroke,” says Abbas. So there is not so much a direct relationship between bad teeth and serious health problems, but inflamed gums are certainly a risk factor that increases the chance of diseases.
Bleeding gums is a clear signal
In addition to the fact that bad teeth increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, inflamed gums also trigger a certain response in the immune system. Abbas: “The liver is going to produce inflammatory substances to tackle the problem in the mouth.”
At a certain point, the inflammation settles so deep in the gums that you can no longer see it.
Frank Abbas, Emeritus Professor of Periodontology
This liver response can contribute to other conditions, such as rheumatism or diabetes. “I know someone who came to a medical specialist with diabetes. He looked for inflammation somewhere. The patient told me that the specialist could not find any inflammation. I have often had to tell you that the inflammation is in the gums, and you don’t always see that on the outside,” says Abbas.
It is not always possible to diagnose a gum infection by a person. “That’s also the annoying thing: at a certain point the inflammation settles so deep in the gums that you can no longer see it. It can then only be determined by an oral care professional,” says Abbas. Bleeding gums is a clear signal that the teeth are in bad shape.
Watch your eating and drinking moments
Your diet also has a lot of influence on the health of your teeth. “It is best to eat or drink something up to seven times a day. Every time you eat or drink something, it causes an acid attack that damages the tooth enamel. This can cause cavities,” says Lolkje de Vries of the Nutrition Center.
“By not eating or drinking too often, your tooth enamel gets time to recover. It can also help to combine eating and drinking moments, then you only have an acid attack once. It also helps to keep your food or drink in eat and drink once.”
Products with sugar in particular increase the risk of cavities in teeth, also known as dental caries.
Lolkje de Vries, from the nutrition center
In addition, it is extra harmful to drink sweet drinks in the evening and at night. There is less saliva to protect your teeth. “Products with sugar in particular increase the risk of cavities in teeth, also known as dental caries,” says De Vries.
You are doing something good for the rest of your body
Acids from (diet) soda also have a negative effect on tooth enamel. This causes dental erosion. “You reduce the risk of dental caries and tooth erosion by not eating and drinking too often and also not choosing products with a lot of sugar too often.”
Once you have dental problems, you need to get them treated as soon as possible. Abbas: “That is good for the preservation of your teeth and molars, which are often lost due to extensive inflammation. But you also do something good for the rest of your body. You remove a risk factor so that damage occurs elsewhere in the body. can become.” In addition, it is of course important to brush well every day with a fluoride toothpaste and to visit the dentist regularly.
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