Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious health conditions

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious health conditions
Whilst it is common knowledge that poor oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, a number of recent studies have found a link between gum disease and serious health conditions.

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of good oral health by linking poor oral hygiene to a number of health problems including an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, dementia and arthritis, as well as complications during pregnancy, erectile dysfunction and reduced fertility.

Researchers in Germany have found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis were eight times more likely to suffer from gum disease, while an Australian research team found a link between poor oral hygiene and reduced fertility.

Problems during pregnancy

Researchers from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and the University of Pennsylvania both found that poor oral health during pregnancy contributes to an increased risk of premature birth and miscarriage.

In light of recent study findings, Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, has urged people to realise the importance of good oral health.

Carter claims that most people are aware that poor oral hygiene is linked to oral health conditions but many may be unaware of the potentially life-threatening implications of skipping brushing and avoiding the dentist.

Importance of regular check ups

Gum disease is a common condition which causes symptoms such as swollen gums, bleeding, especially after brushing and soreness in the gums; if spotted early, the milder form of gum disease, gingivitis, can be treated fairly easily.

However, if gingivitis is not treated, the condition can become more advanced and progress to periodontal disease, which is difficult to treat and can cause irreversible damage.

Gum disease has now been identified as a risk factor for premature birth, miscarriage and even stillbirth, as the bacteria from the mouth can get into the baby’s bloodstream. The NHS in the UK has responded by offering pregnant women free dental care.

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