Good oral hygiene, including regular trips to the dentist, can give you more than just a nice smile. It can also help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, help you retain your teeth as you age, and help preserve the shape of your face. But that’s not all. Did you know that a healthy mouth may also help to protect you against medical conditions like heart attacks, strokes, digestive problems and pre-term births?1 Here’s how.
Over 500 types of bacteria live in your mouth. These microscopic organisms party in your mouth, 24/7! Some bacteria (the bad kind), can form plaque, which accumulates on teeth along the gum line and between teeth, and can cause gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a serious gum disease known as periodontitis.2
This can eventually cause tooth decay, which could require costly dental procedures and gum surgery. Pain from tooth decay and abscesses can at times be severe enough to disrupt work, sleep or school studies, and can affect a person’s quality of life.
But these harmful bacteria aren’t just content to stay in your mouth – far from it! They are nomads at heart, and can travel to distant parts of your body, where they can wreak all kinds of havoc:
- Research shows that people with gum disease, including gingivitis, may be at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke.3 Cardiovascular disease can require medical intervention, therapies and medications.
- Bacteria in the mouth can also find their way into the digestive tract, where they may cause intestinal issues, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.1
- Advanced gum disease can increase the risk of delivering low-weight, pre-term babies, via oral toxins released into the bloodstream. Pre-term infants can face a lifetime of medical complications and costs.4
- Gum disease has been shown to contribute to diabetic complications.1
- Numerous studies have found a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The same bacteria present with chronic gum disease has been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.5
- Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health linked gum disease to pancreatic cancer, citing a 64% increased risk of pancreatic cancer among males with periodontitis.6
It pays to be prepared
So what can be done to avoid the effects of poor oral health? You can be prepared, with CAA Health & Dental Insurance. These plans can help you cover the cost of routine and unexpected out-of-pocket health expenses not covered by your government health insurance plans. And all dental plans include a benefit that covers a recall visit every 6 to 9 months.
The average Canadian household spends over $2,579 out-of-pocket on health and dental expenses such as prescription drugs, dental care and more.7 And over 6 million Canadians avoid going to the dentist each year because they can’t afford it.8
But CAA Health & Dental plans could help you save hundreds of dollars a year. Regular checkups can help your family maintain a clean and healthy mouth and teeth. It pays to be prepared, in more ways than one!
1, 3, 4 Oral Health: A window to your overall health, The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475
Canadian Dental Association, Your Oral Health. http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/cfyt/good_for_life/
How poor dental care can affect your overall health. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/how-poor-dental-care-can-affect-your-overall-health-0313
2 Mouth Bacteria, Friend or Foe? https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/mouth-bacteria-friend-or-foe-0316
5, 6 Beyond tooth decay: why good dental hygiene is important, Medical News Today. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283649.php
Gum disease, Alzheimer’s Disease May Be Linked. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-age-55-up/ada-08-gum-disease-alzheimers-disease-may-be-linked
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Tied to Specific Mouth Bacteria. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160419183932.htm
7 Statistics Canada, Survey of Household Spending 2017
8 High Costs Keep 6 Million Canadians From the Dentist Each Year, CTV News. http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/high-costs-keep-6-million-canadians-from-the-dentist-each-year-report-1.2004438
Dental care: Growing calls to put some teeth into health care. https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/why-b-c-should-introduce-universal-dental-coverage