How you take care of your mouth can affect your entire body. Research has connected periodontal disease (inflammation and infection in the tissue around the teeth) to heart problems, pulmonary disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. Another study published in the Journal of Periodontology uncovered a suspected link between periodontal disease and respiratory infections such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found a relationship between people who lost teeth before the age of 35 and an increased risk of dementia. Swollen, sore, bleeding gums have been linked to everything from adult type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease to pancreatic cancer in men.
Gum disease and heart disease may be linked because they are both signs of poor circulation, or there could be common bacteria that are involved in both gum disease and plaque build-up inside coronary arteries. The link may also have something to do with the body’s response to prolonged inflammation.
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A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may cut your risk of getting gum disease, according to a study by researchers at Harvard. Omega-3s have the effect of reducing inflammation, and the bacteria causing gum disease seem to need inflammation to grow. The top food source of omega-3s is fish. Fish oil supplements are also high in the beneficial fatty acids. Try to get at least 500 mg of omega-3s per day
Good oral care is the best way to prevent gum disease. Avoid aggressive hygiene that will damage gums and enamel—use a soft toothbrush. Avoid toothpastes with whitening additives, as they tend to be more abrasive. Floss at least once each day to remove plaque and food particles that cause bacteria. Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash—alcohol dries the mouth and makes it more prone to decay. A quick rinse washes away the particles you loosened and freshens your breath.