By not taking care of your teeth and gums with regular brushing and flossing, you can end up losing your teeth and have to wear dentures or get a dental prosthesis. By allowing tooth loss to occur, you can put yourself at risk for several other health complications. Besides tooth loss, here are two more reasons to have good oral health.
Jaw and Facial Bone Loss
When you lose any of your teeth, the effects of the missing teeth will immediately begin to affect the bones around the empty tooth socket. The bone in your jaw and around your teeth need stimulation for them to maintain their form and density, and a missing tooth results in a loss of stimulation. When you chew and use your teeth, the teeth touch each other and cause stimulation that promotes your alveolar bones to continually rebuild themselves. The periodontal ligaments around your teeth transmit the stimulation to the surrounding alveolar bone that surrounds and holds your teeth in place. When those teeth are gone, the bones begin to dissolve and waste away.
During the first year of tooth loss, the alveolar bone decreases 25 percent in width, height, and volume. After the first year of bone loss, your bone width, height, and volume will continue to decrease along with your gum tissue. Losing gum tissue affects your appearance and also your ability to chew and speak.
Once your alveolar bone is gone, the underlying basal bone, which is your jaw bone, will begin to resorb and disappear. As your jawbone begins to disappear, the distance from your chin to your nose will decrease as the lower portion of your face collapses in. Your cheeks can appear sunken-in as the skin there does not have teeth to give it any structure. And you can be more at risk of developing jaw fractures as your jawbone loses volume and becomes more brittle.
Increased Risk for Heart Disease and Diabetes
A large international study recently discovered tooth loss is associated with several risk factors for heart disease. In this study, researchers studied data from nearly 16,000 participants in 39 different countries, looking specifically at tooth loss and bleeding gums. Forty percent of the participants had fewer than 15 teeth, 16 percent had no teeth, and 25 percent had bleeding gums.
The results from this study showed that for every decrease in the number of teeth a participant had, there was an increase of the levels of a harmful inflammation and artery-hardening enzyme in their body. Then, when an individual had fewer teeth, other heart disease risk indicators increased. Some of these indicators included higher LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, and an increase in waist size. It was found if a participant's blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels were increased, they had an increase in bleeding gums.
Despite the risk of heart disease relating to tooth loss, a high blood sugar level in an individual can also be a sign of diabetes, as researchers found that those with fewer teeth were more likely to have high blood sugar levels. Once you have tooth loss leading to high blood sugar levels, having diabetes can make your tooth loss worse. In this damaging cycle, diabetics are at risk of periodontal disease, which is an infection of the gum and bone holding your teeth in place. An infection when you are diabetic can cause your blood sugar levels to be higher, worsening your diabetes.
Tips to Help Keep Your Teeth
The best way to keep your teeth is to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. You should also floss your teeth and gums daily to help remove the build-up of plaque. When you don't remove all the plaque on your teeth, it can harden into tartar, which irritates and inflames your gums, causing them to pull away from your teeth. This result can lead to tooth infections and tooth loss. So, visit a professional dentist, such as those at Rose City Dental Care, at least every six months so your dentist can remove any tartar that has built up on your teeth.