Most of us have been encouraged to brush and floss regularly since we were very young to avoid the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, not to mention bad breath. It is only recently that we have begun to learn about the connection between good dental health and general health. Poor oral hygiene causes inflammation, a condition associated with many deadly diseases, which include heart disease and cancer. When you fail to brush thoroughly, your gums quickly become infected and inflamed, and as they begin to bleed they allow inflammation-causing bacteria to migrate into your bloodstream where they can circulate freely around the body.
There have been a significant number of clinical studies into the connection between gum disease and cancer, and the findings are compelling. A recent Swedish study discovered that people with poor oral hygiene were at a significantly higher risk of an early death due to cancer. Another American study assessed the gum health of people with head and neck cancers, measuring bone loss due to severe gum disease. They discovered that for every millimetre of bone loss, the risk of contracting bone cancer was four times higher.
Although much more research is needed into this connection, regular brushing and flossing combined with dental checkups and hygiene appointments is a simple way to protect your smile and your general health.