We all know that having poor oral hygiene can ruin your day. Periodontitis is a serious issue that affects millions of Americans, while cavities and worse cause pain and all around discomfort to nearly 92% of all adults (from ages 20 to 64). But, while annoying, few consider these problems anything more than a speed bump in their day, as they allow dentists to fix the problem but doing nothing to fix the root cause. After all, a cavity can’t kill you, right?
While this may be true, a mountain of scientific evidence has recently turned up linking poor dental hygiene to a variety of deadly diseases, showing precisely why this cavalier approach to brushing one’s teeth needs to change in American culture. Giving you just one more reason to floss every day, here are the worst diseases that have recently been linked to poor oral hygiene.
In August, researchers determined that “more than 3,400 U.S. adults, those who rated their oral health as “poor” to “fair” were more likely to have an oral infection with HPV”, otherwise known as the human papilloma virus. Though HPV is a common disease that is currently on the rise for unknown reasons, the oral stem of this infection—just like the regular strain—can eventually lead to cancer. Granted, this is only a sample size, and many are not completely convinced—saying that oral hygiene is just a reflection of one’s health upkeep in general—however, it does show that taking poor care of your mouth can lead to much worse than simple cavities.
Along with HPV, researches from Edinburgh University found that bad oral hygiene can lead to insulin malfunctions in the bloodstream, which can cause Type 2 Diabetes in the long run. Serious gum disease can affect blood glucose control, making it harder for insulin to take in as much sugar, thus contributing to early onset diabetes. Further research has also shown that those with diabetes have a higher risk of tooth decay, making this issue a two way street.
3. Heart Disease and Strokes
Perhaps the worst side effect of bad dental hygiene, heart disease can become prevalent within people with bleeding gums, a condition that provides entry into the bloodstream for up to 700 different types of bacteria found in our mouths. Not only does this introduce the possibility of other blood related diseases, it can also increase your chance for heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, both of which have become some of the biggest killers in the western world (source). On top of this, if your dental hygiene is bad enough, researches have also determined a relationship between dental infections and the bacterial infection associated with strokes, or cerebral infarction.
In other words, keeping your mouth clean does a lot more than just ward off sore gums and cavities; it can also save your life. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, while Diabetes, HPV, and strokes only add to that total. And, while you can’t control all factors that lead to these diseases, you can control this one. Brush and floss your teeth everyday so you can lower your chance of getting these diseases, and maybe you’ll live just a little bit longer. Good luck!