Oral health is much more important than you may have thought. Aside from cavities, gum disease and even oral cancer, there are a number of health problems you may not have realized can be traced back to having poor dental hygiene or damaged and missing teeth. Here are some less known conditions that can be caused by skipping the dentist.
- Weight Gain or Obesity
Damaged or missing teeth can mean you’re not chewing your food properly, or you’re limiting the types of food you can eat. People may be partial to foods that are easier to chew, which include high-fat options like fast food. Foods that are nutritious and high in fiber (fruits and vegetables) aren’t as easy to chew and swallow when your teeth aren’t up to the job.
- Higher Risk of Diabetes
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, tooth loss has been connected to a higher chance of developing diabetes—an 11-percent higher risk, to be more precise. This is due to inflammation in the bloodstream. Diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate its blood sugar, which can lead to more major health problems. To make matters worse, once you have diabetes, your chance of developing more serious oral health issues actually increases as well.
- Greater Chance of Heart Disease
You may not believe there’s a link between your teeth and your heart, but the American Dental Association (ADA) says a number of studies link poor oral health with poor heart health, although the reasons aren’t yet exactly known. While there is no hard scientific evidence to support whether bad oral hygiene contributes to a weaker heart, the ADA says you should still regard your teeth and gums as the gateway to diseases including those affecting your heart. Further studies are being performed by various groups to prove the link.
- Risk of Low Birth Weight
If you’re a pregnant woman, having poor oral health or gum disease can not only affect you, but also your next generation, according to Health Canada. The Canadian government body states that studies are currently underway to link poor oral health to premature births as well as low birth weight. Pre-term babies are at a higher risk of facing development barriers, infections, abnormalities and even infant death, according to Health Canada.
- Weakening of the Bones
Osteoporosis is a serious condition that causes your bones to become brittle, so you are much more likely to suffer a serious injury due to a fall or even from carrying out your daily routine.
The Mayo Clinic says there may be a link between osteoporosis—which affects your entire body—and the loss of teeth and periodontal bone that supports the teeth. Several studies support the fact that people with tooth loss and periodontal bone deficiencies also tend to show signs of a weakening skeleton in other parts of the body.
- Possible Respiratory Complications
Health Canada attributes some breathing problems with gum disease, which is caused by plaque that is actually a layer of bacteria that isn’t friendly to your mouth. Health Canada notes that bad bacteria can actually make its way from your mouth to your lungs, which is bad news for those with existing respiratory ailments and also for those with previously healthy lungs.
The respiratory difficulties from poor oral health particularly affects the elderly, but that doesn’t mean people of any age can be left gasping for air due to complications from gum disease that has gone untreated. If you’re having a hard time catching your breath lately, you may also want to see your dentist after consulting your physician.
- More Chance of Developing Dementia
That’s right, even your mental health can be negatively affected without the regular supervision of a dentist. The Alzheimer’s Society points to the importance of maintaining your oral health to help stave off the effects of Dementia, which causes confusion and memory loss. For those reasons, it’s also much more difficult for those with Dementia to maintain a proper oral care routine. The University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry also conducted a study that pinpointed bacteria from gum disease in the brain. The study found that of the 10 people with Dementia (and 10 without), almost half of those affected with the mental disorder had a particular type of bacteria, called Porphyromonas gingivalis, show up in their brains.
Washington, D.C., March 8, 2016 –Constant exposure to our environment, the things we eat, and stresses from both inside and outside our bodies all cause us to age over time. Although scientists have not yet found a way to delay the biological processes of aging, they are learning more about how healthy behavioral practices, such as maintaining a well-balanced diet, are critical to fostering good health throughout our lives.
While eating a nutritious diet overall is essential, the specific amounts and types of nutrients we need and the body’s ability to process them can change with age and with personal health status.
During National Nutrition Month, the Alliance for Aging Research, in partnership with the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, has released three animated “pocket films” that explain the role of nutrition in healthy aging and highlight some of the latest findings in nutrition research. These pocket films offer an easy-to-understand, concise introduction to nutrition that both consumers and health educators can take with them anywhere on their smart phone or tablet. The films are available for viewing here and for direct download here.
“We are pleased to release these films during National Nutrition Month as a way to educate seniors, and consumers of all ages, about how good nutrition can help them maintain and improve their health, add vitality to their years, and potentially reduce their risk of disease,” says Alliance Vice President of Health Programs Lindsay Clarke.
The films look at nutrition in three parts: nutrition and the process of aging, essential nutrients and safely turning to supplements, and improving cardiovascular health with nutrition.
The films cover a number of topics, including:
- The biological processes of aging and the importance of nutrition in promoting healthy aging
- An overview of essential and non-essential nutrients
- What the latest research tells us about bioactive compounds such as carotenoids, phytosterols, and flavanols and how they may improve aspects of health
- When and how to consider and choose dietary supplements
- Advances in nutrition and cardiovascular health
“We are very excited by this collaboration with the Alliance for Aging Research and the launch of these educational films, “explains Daniella Foster, Director of Science Communications and Corporate Affairs, Mars Symbioscience. “We have spent more than two decades committed to pioneering innovative fundamental nutrition research to maintain and improve human health. And through our Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, we are dedicated to sharing our research outcomes and advancing people’s understanding of the inherent link between nutrition and healthy aging. These films offer an engaging, consumer-friendly way to do just that.”
For a press kit about the films, please go here.
The Alliance offers a complete library of short, animated “pocket films” on a wide range of health conditions and topics from sepsis to atrial fibrillation to safe medication use, many with an emphasis on older adults.
For more information, please contact Noel Lloyd, communications manager, at 202.370.7852 or through email.
About the Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application in order to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. Visit www.agingresearch.org for more information.
About Mars Center For Cocoa Health Science
For more than 20 years, and based on collaborating with a multidisciplinary group of international experts, Mars, Incorporated has been conducting comprehensive and innovative research with a network of scientific collaborators around the world to advance the understanding of cocoa flavanols and their health benefits for the purpose of improving human health. The Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science (MCCHS) was formally established in 2012 as a Center of Excellence to pioneer, capture and share the latest scientific research in the field. MCCHS provides access to more than 20 years of gold standard research, over 140 published peer-reviewed scientific papers, educational videos, slides and other information that Mars, Incorporated and its collaborators have developed to advance cocoa flavanol understanding. For more information, please visit http://www.marscocoascience.com.