What Kind of Health Problems Can Bad Teeth Cause?

15 / 06 / 2020

Diabetes and heart disease are being linked to poor oral health. Aside from the connections between oral health and overall physical health, there might be also habits that cause both. For example, it’s possible that both diabetes and bad teeth resulted from consuming too much sugary foods and drinks. It’s also possible that one causes or accelerates the other. For instance, advanced gum disease (periodontal disease) affects the body’s ability to use insulin and thereby also affects our blood sugar levels.

What kind of health problems can bad teeth cause?

The health of our teeth and gums is now often seen as the window to our overall health. It’s like an indicator to how healthy we are generally because of the links between the mouth and entire human body. After all, tooth or gum problems may cause serious infections, which could then compromise our overall health because infections spread through the blood and tissues.

Let’s try to trace the path of infections and cascading problems. Poor oral hygiene encourages bacteria build-up on teeth and gums. This makes the gums prone to infection, which then prompts the immune system to action. Often the immune system’s response is in the form of inflammation. This inflammation goes on as long as the infection is there. It’s the body’s natural response to fighting infection and foreign bodies.

However, this ongoing inflammation may release chemicals that eat away at the structure that holds the teeth in place. It’s a severe gum disease, which then affects how our bodies regulate blood sugar levels (i.e. which could also complicate diabetes). This link between diabetes and oral health means the intervention approach should include both.

Another serious problem is about heart disease. For now the theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes or initiates inflammation in the blood vessels, which could limit blood flow and raise blood pressure. In addition, this inflammation along with high blood pressure might cause the fatty plaque to break off and find its way to the heart. The link is not absolutely clear yet, but this makes us think about how our teeth and gums have a bigger role in our overall health.

In Australia it’s estimated that around 1.2 million adults had diabetes and around the same number had conditions related to heart or cardiovascular diseases (source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). A significant percentage of that might also be suffering from gum disease and other dental problems. As a result, it’s important to pay attention to the role of oral health to our overall physical health. This way, our beautiful smile is not just outward, but also a sign of good health.