5 ways poor oral hygiene can affect your health

Brushing your teeth is not enough to keep your oral health in check! Here’s how poor oral hygiene affects your health and what you can do to maintain it.

Do you not brush your teeth regularly or twice a day? Brushing your teeth twice a day can help avoid buildup of plaque and tartar. When you don’t do the basics, you put your oral health in jeopardy. Did you know oral hygiene not only helps clean your mouth and teeth but keeps your overall health in check? From Alzheimer’s to diabetes to liver disease and heart conditions, the implications of neglecting oral care can be far-reaching. However, these risks can be mitigated by taking simple everyday steps to prioritize one’s oral hygiene. Know the side effects of poor oral hygiene and what you can do to avoid them.

How does poor oral hygiene affect your health?

If you have been neglecting your oral health, you should know how it affects your health, as explained by Dentist Dr Rajiv Verma.

1. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects your memory, behaviour, and thinking. It is the most common type of dementia that can get worse with age. A study published in the journal Microorganisms found a link between oral diseases and Alzheimer’s disease, specifically through a protein called ‘amyloid-beta’. “This protein is produced by one’s body when there is an infection. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s have this protein present in high quantities in their brain. Since oral diseases are also driven by infections, the ‘amyloid-beta’ protein is often found around the outside of infected teeth and gums. The protein may then filter into one’s blood stream, where it can potentially be transported to the brain, hence the potential link between poor oral health and Alzheimer’s,” explains Dr Verma.

Alzheimer's disease
Poor oral hygiene can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Diabetes

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease? However, the link works both ways. Gum disease and infection can increase your blood sugar levels, suggesting that if one has developed, there’s an increased risk of the other developing too. So, make sure you are following a proper oral health routine to avoid complications.

3. Liver cancer and liver disease

Poor oral health is linked to a 75 percent increase in liver cancer risk, found a study published in the journal SAGE The liver contributes to the removal of bacteria, so when it is affected by diseases, its function will decline, and bacteria will survive for longer and potentially cause more harm. Some bacteria have been found to originate in the oral cavity, explains the expert.

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4. Lung conditions

Your mouth contains a lot of bacterial plaque, and when you do not follow a proper oral hygiene, it gets inhaled and spread the bacteria to the lungs. This can cause infection, which can aggravate existing lung conditions. People with aspiration pneumonia, a condition which occurs when food or liquid is breathed into the lungs, are at a higher risk. It is difficult for a dentist to diagnose whether a patient has a lung problem, so it is best to look out for symptoms of any lung disease, advises the dentist.

5. Heart disease and strokes

People who suffer from periodontal disease are more likely to be diagnosed with a heart disease, found a study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. Several other studies have also found a link between inflammatory markers (signs of body-wide inflammation) found in the bloodstream of those with chronic gum disease and those who have suffered from strokes and heart disease.

risk of heart attack
Poor oral hygiene can trigger heart problems. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to maintain better oral hygiene?

Maintaining a healthy and balanced oral microbiome is essential for good oral health. Here are some simple tips by the expert that you can follow:

1. Eat a diverse range of foods, particularly legumes, beans, and fruit.
2. Consume a diet rich in fibre and foods that promote the growth of good bacteria.
3. Include fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir in your diet, which contain healthy bacteria and can reduce the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria.
4. Consume more prebiotic foods like fibre-rich foods that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. These include artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats, and apples.
5. A high-sugar diet can encourage the growth of acid-loving bacteria like Streptococcus Mutans, which contributes to caries and periodontal (gum) disease and inhibits good bacteria. So, avoid eating sugary foods.
4. Avoid fizzy and diet drinks, as these can contribute to dental erosion and cavities by affecting the balance of microorganisms, and upset the good bacteria.
5. Choose a microbiome-boosting toothpaste for good oral hygiene.
6. Brush your teeth twice daily using a sonic toothbrush and floss daily.
7. Saltwater is a good natural remedy, as it kills bad bacteria and promotes good bacteria.

By understanding the hidden risks associated with poor oral hygiene and implementing the steps outlined above, individuals can significantly improve their oral health and reduce the risk of serious health conditions.