Poor oral hygiene: what are the risks to your overall health?
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Poor oral hygiene: what are the risks to your overall health?

According to the World Health Organization, 3.5 billion people worldwide have oral health problems.

Caries affects 2.5 billion people, and periodontal disease affects 1 billion. Beyond your mouth, poor oral hygiene can harm your overall health. Review of health risks associated with poor oral health.

  • Periodontal diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Periodontitis is an inflammatory reaction that affects the periodontium, that is, all the structures that provide fixation of the teeth (gums, ligaments, alveolar process). It is caused by gingivitis, a local inflammation of the gums that has no cure. Periodontitis causes gradual gum resorption and, where applicable, tooth loss. It is also the leading cause of tooth loss. This disease and its associated bacteria are also associated with many other diseases: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

  • Cardiovascular diseases

Infective endocarditis is a serious infection of the endocardium (the tissue lining the chambers of the heart) associated with a high mortality rate. This is often the result of the presence of bacteria in the blood (bacteremia), the starting point of which is usually the mouth and teeth, emphasizes the Higher Health Authority. Specifically, the infection occurs from plaque bacteria that enter the bloodstream, reach the heart and attach to its internal cavities.

Several studies have also pointed to a link between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis (the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the walls of the arteries), which is the cause of most cardiovascular diseases. According to a specialized online magazine Dental flossOn the one hand, periodontal bacteria are found in the circulation and increase pre-existing atherosclerotic plaques. On the other side, “Periodontal diseases cause an immunoinflammatory reaction, which results in the production of proinflammatory mediators, prothrombotic factors, which are detected through the systemic circulation at the level of atherosclerotic plaques.”

The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease has been widely documented. Thus, poorly controlled diabetes will triple the risk of developing periodontal disease. Indeed, chronic inflammation associated with diabetes contributes to the destruction of periodontal structures.

Vice versa, “Chronic inflammation caused by periodontitis increases insulin resistance and, in turn, impairs blood sugar control,” Summarized by the Prevention Observatory of the Montreal Heart Institute (Canada).

Periodontitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are also thought to be related. Bacteria that enter the body through saliva contribute to intestinal inflammation by disrupting the intestinal microbiome (intestinal flora consisting of billions of microorganisms). As with diabetes, the reverse is also true.

Periodontal disease may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, again due to bacteria from the gums entering the bloodstream. According to the study, P. gingivalis, a bacterium most commonly found in periodontitis, has been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It will have a negative effect on Tau protein and amyloid peptides, the main components of the neuropathological lesions of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. The disease occurs in outbreaks until the joints are destroyed. Several epidemiological studies have found an association between this disease and chronic periodontitis. According to a 2020 study, “The inflammation caused by periodontitis stimulates the production of cells that increase bone resorption in the joints,” This was reported by the Prevention Observatory of the Montreal Heart Institute.

A 2016 study published in the journal Annals of Oncology indicates a link between poor oral hygiene and head and neck cancer. “Good oral hygiene is associated with a lower risk of head and neck cancer,” the authors concluded.

Additionally, the Prevention Observatory reports several studies of this possible connection. A recent study (2022) concluded that the incidence of colorectal cancer is 50% higher in individuals with a history of periodontitis. Additionally, periodontal bacteria have been observed in colorectal and oral cancers. And high levels of antibodies against P. Gingivalis associated with pancreatic cancer.

  • Risks during pregnancy

Finally, if it is difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship, periodontitis may have harmful consequences for pregnant women. According to a medical dissertation defended in 2022, the purpose of which was to review the literature on this topic: “The presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis may be responsible for decreased birth weight as well as an increased inflammatory response, which can lead to preeclampsia and therefore preterm birth.”

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