How Good Dental Care Can Improve Your Health

Hey there Guys,

I came across this interesting post @ Web MD today about the connection with dental health and reduced risk of heart attach and stroke.

We are frequently told to brush and floss our teeth for fresh breath and a long lasting smile however there is now research emerging that connects poor dental care with increased inflammation in the body and associated health risks. As discussed by Dr Louise Chang @ Web MD:

In a large study, people who had their teeth professionally scaled at least once every two years were 24% less likely to have a heart attack and their risk of stroke dropped by 13%, compared with those who skipped the hygienist. Scaling cleans between the gums and the teeth.

“Something as simple as having good dental hygiene — brushing, flossing, and having regular cleanings — may be good for your heart and brain health. Although the link between dental health and heart and stroke risk is not entirely clear, inflammation is a common problem in gum disease and heart disease. A number of studies have linked chronic inflammation to hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke,” says Ralph Sacco, MD, head of neurology at the University of Miami.

Cleaning your teeth gets rid of bacteria in the mouth that can lead to chronic infection and inflammation, which can then spread to other parts of the body.

As mentioned in my post about safe oral sex, good oral care decreases the risk of HIV transmission during oral sex due to less bleeding and less inflammatory cells present in the gums that allows HIV virus into the body.

For people living with HIV quality dental care is vital not only for healthy teeth and mouth but also slowing disease progression and maintaining general health. As mentioned at the AFAO website:

Having HIV and the side effects of some HIV medications can both affect your dental health, including reducing the amount of saliva in your mouth which can lead to tooth decay.

There is also an increased likelihood of gum and mouth disorders, such as oral thrush and badly bleeding gums, particularly during the early stages of HIV.

Emotional factors such as stress and anxiety, nutritional factors, as well as some HIV medications can cause a higher likelihood of teeth clenching and grinding. This can cause wearing of the teeth and make teeth sore and sensitive.

In Australia there is a  government health initiative that allows people with chronic medical diseases, of which HIV fully qualifies, to access $4,250 worth of dental care over a two year period to help maintain health. You can download a fact sheet on the dental scheme here @ Medicare Australia. Be aware that this is not limited to people living with HIV but anyone with a chronic disease that improving dental hygiene would increase health.

If you are interested in accessing these funds the best person to speak with first would be your GP.

So don’t forget each time you brush and floss not only are you looking after your dazzling smile but your heart and health as well.

Dr George

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