7 reasons to prioritise oral hygiene this year

If you don't take care of your mouth, the bacteria can build up and lead to health problems.

7 reasons to prioritise oral hygiene this year

New York Times

Researchers reviewed the health records from nearly 250,000 adults in South Korea who were healthy and published a study in 2019. They found that those who received regular dental cleanings and regularly brushed their tooth over ten years had fewer cardiovascular events.

You can find bacteria in your mouth.

The following bacteria are a good example of this:

To thrive, they need dark, warm, moist conditions, and food and drink that provide them with nutrients. Experts say that when harmful bacteria accumulate around your gums and teeth, you are at risk for developing gum disease. This is an inflammation and infection of the bone and gums surrounding your teeth. Kimberly Bray is a professor of Dental Hygiene at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She said that such conditions can affect the rest of the body. For example, a growing but limited body of research has shown that periodontal diseases are associated with diabetes, heart disease and respiratory infections. Bray says that the exact way oral bacteria can affect your health is not well understood because there is limited research and no studies that have proven cause-and effect. Experts say that some conditions have a greater association with oral health. What we know.

Oral Health and Health Issues

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47% of Americans aged 30 and older have periodontal disease. The gums can become red, swollen or tender in the early stages of periodontal disease, also known as gingivitis. They may even bleed. Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis if left untreated. The gums may recede and bone may be lost. Teeth may also become loose or fall out.

Ananda P. Dasanayake is a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health. She teaches epidemiology.

New York University College of Dentistry


He said that this can occur during dental cleanings or flossing or if there is a wound or cut inside the mouth. Bray explained that if you don't treat an inflammation in your mouth, the inflammation could spread to other organs.

The Diabetes

Bray explained that of all the associations found between oral health, diabetes and periodontal diseases, this one has the most scientific evidence. She added that the two conditions appear to be linked in a bi-directional way: periodontal disease appears to increase the risk of diabetes and vice versa. Researchers are still trying to figure out how exactly this works, but one 2017 review stated that systemic inflammation from periodontal diseases may affect the body's response to insulin. Scientists found in an April study that diabetics treated for periodontal diseases saw their health care costs drop by 12-14%. Dasanayake stated that treating periodontal diseases improves diabetes.


According to Dr. Frank, bacterial pneumonia can occur if large amounts of bacteria are inhaled from the mouth and settle into the lungs.


Professor of Oral Biology at the

University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine


The phenomenon is most common in hospitalized patients or in older adults living in nursing homes. It's a problem for people who cannot floss or brush on their own. Dr. Martinna Bertolini said. She is an assistant professor in dental medicine.

University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine


Scannapieco says that antibiotics or professional dental cleanings can reduce the risk of this type of pneumonia.

Cardiovascular Disease

A team of international experts published a report in 2020 that concluded there was a link between periodontitis, heart attacks, strokes, plaque buildup on the arteries and other cardiovascular diseases. Researchers have not determined the exact link between poor oral health and heart disease, but some evidence suggests periodontal bacteria in the mouth can travel to arteries of vascular disease patients. This could play a role in developing the disease. In a statement released in 2012, the American Heart Association stated that gum inflammation is associated with increased levels of inflammatory protein in the blood. These proteins have been linked to poor heart health. Some research suggests that good oral hygiene is linked to lower heart disease rates. In a 2019 study, researchers examined the health records for nearly 250,000 adults in South Korea. They found that those who received regular dental cleanings and brushed their teeth regularly were less likely to suffer cardiovascular events over ten years than those with poorer dental hygiene.

Pregnancy Complications

Dasanayake stated that a number of studies and reviews found associations between severe Periodontal Disease and preterm and low birth weight babies. More research is required to confirm this link. Researchers found in a review published in 2019 that treating periodontal diseases during pregnancy increased birth weight, reduced the risk for preterm births and death of the newborn or fetus. In a 2009 research study, researchers discovered that oral bacteria can travel to the placenta, potentially contributing to chorioamnionitis. This is a serious infection that affects the amniotic and placental fluid, which could cause an early birth or life-threatening complications. Researchers have also found that oral bacteria can activate immune cells in the blood that cause inflammation in the womb, which could affect the placenta or fetal tissue. Research has shown that periodontitis can cause preterm delivery in mice and that treating the infection will protect against low birthweights and preterm deliveries.


Scannapieco stated that researchers are increasingly interested in oral health and dementia, especially Alzheimer's. He said that bacteria found in the mouth have been detected in brain tissue from Alzheimer's patients, suggesting a possible role. Scientists noted in a review that oral bacteria, especially those associated with periodontitis, could affect the brain either directly through "infection of central nervous system" or indirectly via "chronic systemic inflammatory disease" that reaches brain. The review authors noted that there is no evidence to suggest that oral bacteria can cause Alzheimer's. Periodontal disease, however, is only one of many "risk factors" that can predispose people to Alzheimer's and other forms dementia.

Other Conditions

Bray added that oral bacteria has also been strongly linked to a number other conditions, such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Recent research has begun to establish a link between oral bacteria and kidney, liver and colorectal cancers. Experts said that more research was needed to confirm these links. Scannapieco added that we don't yet know if periodontal and dental treatments can help improve or prevent any of these conditions.

What You Can Do

Scannapieco says that the best way to maintain good dental health is to adhere to classic dental care recommendations, such as brushing twice daily and flossing each day. He said that "not all people appreciate their oral hygiene, and are only reminded when they experience pain or a toothache." It's just as important to be proactive and diligent about your oral hygiene as you are when it comes to exercise, diet or other aspects of your well-being.