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Dental Health Facts
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Your oral health could be an indicator of your overall health.
Regular visits to the dentist may do more than brighten your smile. Research has linked periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection, to complications for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, osteoporosis and other health issues.
Research shows that people with periodontal (gum) disease may be more at risk for heart disease and strokes. That's because bacteria from the gum tissues may enter the blood stream and cause small blood clots that may contribute to the clogging of arteries. University of Minnesota research that two kinds of bacteria breeding in dental plaque around inflamed gums can lead to blood clumping. This is the first step towards forming a clot that can trigger a heart attack. Inflammation caused by gum disease may also contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries.
Diabetics tend to have more gum disease because diabetes can slow the healing process and lower one's resistance to infections. Research also shows diabetics suffer greater tooth loss than patients without diabetes. Gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar, and moderate or severe gum disease can increase the time a diabetic's blood sugar remains high. Good dental health may be linked to a reduced risk of diabetic complications.
Degenerative osteoporosis is associated with the loss of bone mineral and has been suggested as a risk factor for oral bone loss and for tooth loss, due to a decrease in bone density in the jaw supporting teeth. Women with severe osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than are women who do not have osteoporosis.
Healthy Gums & Pregnancy
Did you know that pregnant women with chronic periodontal (gum) disease during the second trimester are up to seven times more likely to give birth prematurely? An expectant mom's gum disease may indicate an increased probability of a pre-term birth. Receiving professional dental care during pregnancy is important. Yet, the American Dental Association (ADA) says that most pregnant women will not visit their dentist - even if they are having dental problems.
Elevated ovarian hormones during pregnancy are associated with increased gum inflammation. Your gums can become red, puffy or tender and may bleed when you brush. See your dentist during your pregnancy and be sure to mention if you've noticed these symptoms. Your dentist may recommend an additional cleaning during your second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.
Gum inflammation plays a possible role in the development of pre-eclampsia, a serious condition affecting approximately 5% of U.S. pregnancies. When a mother suffers from pre-eclampsia, the blood supply to her baby is reduced, adversely impacting the baby's ability to grow and be healthy.