What’s more, over a quarter of these people still suffer from untreated dental caries!
It’s no wonder then that dental cavities are now the second most common disorder in the country. Worse, this completely preventable disease can cause pain, suffering, and irreversible bone loss.
But what about the rest of the body? Can bad teeth make you sick and cause problems outside of your mouth?
According to scientists, it can. From infections to heart attacks and strokes, a rotten tooth has the potential to cause all these.
The question is, how exactly can a rotten tooth make you sick? What are the risks of untreated tooth decay?
We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
How Can Bad Teeth Make You Sick? It All Starts with the Bacteria
Inside your mouth are over 700 different species of bacteria. These feed on the carbohydrates of the starchy and sugary foods and drinks you consume. Upon feeding and digesting, they transform these carbs into acids.
These acids, when mixed with other bacteria, food debris, and saliva, turn into plaque. Plaque is the soft, sticky layer of film that builds up and clings to the teeth. It’s this film that can dissolve the teeth enamel, the hardest tissue in the body, and cause cavities.
Regular brushing and flossing can remove most plaque. However, some of it can still get into the deep crevices of the teeth. To get rid of all that cavity-causing film, you need your family dentist to give you deep dental cleaning.
Otherwise, that unremoved plaque puts you at a huge risk of gum disease. In fact, plaque is the main cause of gum disease, affecting almost 65 million Americans.
It’s also a culprit behind dental infections, which are painful and can spread to other parts of the body. Moreover, the same bacteria that form plaque can get into the bloodstream.
Dental Pain Can Cause Sleeping Problems
Cavities and gum problems can be so painful to the point that you can’t sleep. It can be a throbbing pain, sharp pain, or a dull ache that doesn’t disappear. Either way, severe dental pain can make it hard for you to fall or stay asleep.
Poor sleep, however, can heighten your stress levels and put you in emotional distress. It can lead to mood disorders, reduced cognitive functions, and even memory issues. Ultimately, it can affect the overall quality of your life.
Tooth Decay, Gum Disease, and Heart Attack Risks
Scientists have found that people with gum disease are up to three times more likely to have a heart attack. They’re also at the same increased risk for strokes and other heart ailments.
Experts say that this is due to the aggravating effect of gum disease on inflammation. Short term inflammation is important as it helps the body heal and fight infections. However, long-term inflammation can trigger other ailments, such as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque forms and clogs up the arteries. The “plaque” in this case consists of fats, cholesterol, and other substances. These substances harden over time, and when they do, they can narrow the arteries.
This results in limited blood flow, which means that the organs won’t get enough oxygen. From there, serious problems, like heart attacks and strokes, can follow.
From Dental Infections to Deep Neck Infections
Experts estimate that one in 2,600 people in the U.S. gets hospitalized due to dental infections. One reason is that untreated tooth infection can spread to the deep neck surfaces. Deep neck infections often cause swelling and pain in the face, fever, and even sepsis.
Left untreated, these infections can cause neck swelling, resulting in breathing difficulties. Breathing restriction, in turn, can turn into life-threatening tooth infection dangers.
The Bacteria That Causes Bad Teeth May Also Cause Bad Memory
As if tooth decay isn’t enough, it appears that a specific bacterium also has a link to Alzheimer’s disease. This is Porphyromonas gingivalis, or Pg, which scientists found in AD-affected brains.
Pg can reach the brain by getting past the mouth’s “biological width”. This is the base part of each tooth, which serves as a protective layer against infection. This layer, however, deteriorates when there’s gum disease or other mouth infections.
When the biological width breaks down, Pg can make its way to the bloodstream. What’s more, its properties give it the ability to bypass the blood-brain barrier. Once it passes this barrier, it can cause pathological changes to the brain, one of which is AD.
Bad Teeth Can Affect One’s Mental and Psychological Well-Being
Rotten teeth don’t only look unpleasant; it also causes bad breath, also known as halitosis. It’s a very common condition, affecting an estimated 80 million Americans.
So, it’s no wonder that nearly one in four US adults feel embarrassed because of their mouth and teeth issues. 20% of adults even report experiencing anxiety due to the bad state of their oral health.
Embarrassment and anxiety can become deep-rooted and cause more psychological issues. Studies found that people with poor oral health suffer from low self-esteem. This can then result in isolation, which further exacerbates one’s mental state.
Don’t Let Bad Teeth Get in the Way of Your Health
There you have it, the scientific answers your question, “Can bad teeth make you sick?” And now that you know how sick you can get, it’s time that you take better care of your teeth and gums. Aside from regular brushing and flossing, make sure that you see your Dentist in North Eastham at least twice a year too.
You may not be able to get rid of all the bacteria in your mouth, but you can at least control their growth. Doing so will help keep them in your mouth and away from your blood, lungs, heart, and brain.
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