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Oral health is important and may affect your general health. Your mouth is filled with bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor oral care may lead from plaque buildup to gingivitis, which could develop into a severe form of gum disease. Some researchers suspect that bacteria and inflammation linked to gum disease (periodontitis) may raise the risk for various conditions including heart disease, arterial blockages and stroke.

Bacteria could enter the bloodstream via the gums and stick to fatty plaques contributing to blockages. Such bacteria could also trigger an inflammatory response, causing blood vessels to swell, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of clots. These bacteria spread through the blood may also be linked to dementias and Alzheimers disease. Gum disease may also play a part in contracting pneumonia, bronchitus or emphysema.

Your mouth can also reflect your bodily or systemic health. Signs of nutritional deficiencies and infections may be apparent to your dentist. Mouth Lesions or other oral problems may lead to the discovery of Diabetes, AIDS or other syndromes. Also, diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection and inflammation, making gum diseases more severe.

With diabetes, it could be a two way street: Some studies suggest that periodontitis can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. High blood glucose levels make fighting infections more difficult, causing more severe gum disease.

Several studies show evidence linking periodontitis with an increased risk or oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, premature birth and low birth weight. Still other conditions that may be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth.

So, what should you do?

Given the potential link between periodontitus and these health problems, prevention may be your best defence. Follow your oral hygienists' instructions regarding daily flossing and brushing your teeth. Replace your tooth brush regularly Have regular checkups with your dentist and oral hygienist. Keep healthy with a balanced diet.

If you have any oral problem, contact your dentist right away. Keep your dentist informed about your health, any conditions you have and medication you take. Some medications can reduce the saliva flow which helps to wash away food and neutralize acids produced by bacteria.