Undetected tooth infections could increase the risk of heart disease by almost three times, according to new research.
The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research1, has found that people with untreated tooth infections are 2.7 times more likely to have cardiovascular problems, such as coronary artery disease, than patients who have had treatment of dental infections.
With cardiovascular diseases being a contributor in an estimated 30 per cent of all deaths globally, leading health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, wants to encourage more regular dental visits, especially if we are experiencing toothache, sensitivity or bleeding gums.
Speaking on the issue Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “This research is very worrying as tooth infections are initially caused by tooth decay which is triggered by poor oral hygiene routines and a diet high in sugar.
“The major signs of root infection (usually known as a dental abscess) include pain, often when biting down on the tooth, and sometimes swelling. The tooth may also become discoloured. But sometimes infection does not immediately present with these symptoms and can go undetected for some time.
“Thankfully, maintaining good basic oral health and cutting your risk is very easy. By brushing our teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on the amount of sugary foods and drinks and how often we have them and visiting our dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, we can help prevent disease, not only in the mouth but the whole body too.”
As well as looking after your oral health preventing gum disease can be boosted by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking.
“Infections occur when decay reaches the centre of the tooth, the dental pulp, when the tooth dies a reservoir of bacteria spreads beyond the end of the root and can enter the bloodstream. Treatment for this would usually be a root canal treatment to remove all of the infected tissue and prevent bacteria spreading,” Dr Carter added.
“These new findings add to the existing links between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. It has previously been established that people with gum disease almost twice as likely to develop heart disease than people without it, this makes the need for good oral care even more important.
“Over recent years’ problems in the mouth have also been linked to other serious conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and problems with pregnancy, so it is vital that we see our oral health as a priority.”
The Oral Health Foundation welcomes more research into this matter as it may be a way to prevent many instances of cardiovascular disease around the world and ultimately save lives.
With thanks to the British dental Health Foundation
Good oral health can have so many wonderful life-changing benefits. From greater self-confidence to better luck in careers and relationships, a healthy smile can truly transform your visual appearance, the positivity of your mind-set, as well as improving the health of not only your mouth but your body too.
As part of National Smile Month, we have put together some top tips covering all areas of your oral health, to help keep you smiling throughout the campaign.
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes or floss.
- To check if you have bad breath, lick your wrist, let it dry and give it a sniff, if it smells your breath probably does too.
- If you use mouthwash don’t use it directly after brushing as you rinse away the fluoride from your toothpaste.
- Quit smoking to help reduce the chances of tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
- Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride; it helps strengthen tooth enamel making it more resistant to decay.
- Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn as it will not clean the teeth properly.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
- Some dentists may offer home visits for people who are housebound or have difficulty visiting the surgery.
- If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, make sure they are aware of why so they can improve your treatment.
- Help to overcome dental anxiety by taking a friend with you for support or listen to music to help you relax and focus on something else.
- Your dentist will carry out a visual mouth cancer check during your regular check-up.
- Visiting a dental hygienist can help give you excellent tips and advice on many dental problems
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking, especially sugary foods, to help protect your teeth and gums in between meals.
- Wait an hour after eating or drinking anything before brushing as then enamel will be softened and you could be brushing away tiny particles.
- A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease.
- Finishing a meal with a cube of cheese is a great, and tasty, way to reduce the effect of acids from the foods damaging your teeth.
- Avoid snacking and try to only have sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes, reducing the time your teeth come under attack.
- If you have a sweet tooth try to choose sugar free sweets and drinks which contain xylitol as it can actively contribute to your oral health.
- Weaning your baby off the bottle early can help them avoid developing dental problems.
- All children up to three years old, should use a smear of toothpaste with a fluoride level of no less than 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm -1500ppm.
- Parents should try and supervise your children’s tooth brushing until they are about 10 years old.
With acknowledgement to the British Dental Health Foundation
See our website www.harrow-dentist.com