June 3, 2024

Why Good Dental Hygiene Is Important Beyond Your Teeth

Dental Hygiene

Taking care of your dental hygiene can do more than prevent cavities.  According to Dr. Martinna Bertolini, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and more have been linked to dental health. The same bacteria that causes problems in oral cavities, and are typically only found in oral cavities, have been shown to cause inflammation in other areas of the body, Bertolini says.

“We know some patients, they can tend to have these bacteria traveling from the mouth to the distant organs in the body,” she says. “Now there are ways to see exactly what are the bacterias that we have in the oral cavity and also what are those bacterias found in distant organs?”

Research has found some of those bacteria causing inflammation on the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline and has been associated with Alzheimer’s. Some of the bacteria has also been found on aneurysms in the brain, which can erupt.

“They could be causing a local inflammation, and with that they could also be related to the worst outcome with the aneurysm,” Bertolini says.

There is a direct correlation between diabetes and oral health, Bertolini says. If a patient has diabetes, they have a higher chance of developing periodontal disease, which is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth. However, if a patient does have periodontal disease because of their diabetes, the more they treat the periodontal disease (through cleanings or surgeries if needed), the level of inflammation they’re able to reduce in their mouths is equivalent to an extra medication for their diabetes.

“We always highlight these because of the dual connection between the periodontal disease and the diabetes and diabetes affecting the periodontal disease,” Bertolini. “This is one of the biggest ones that we always discuss with the patients.”

To maintain good dental hygiene, people should be brushing with fluoride toothpaste, despite myths that fluoride is bad for you.


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