Loose teeth increase the risk
Four out of ten Swedes have some indication of periodontal disease. Since the 1990s, researchers have been able to demonstrate a link between bacteria and inflammation in the mouth and hardening of the arteries and coronary heart disease.
One study at Karolinska Institutet showed that someone with severe periodontal disease and bone loss has a 20 per cent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a 70 per cent increased risk of stroke. Another study investigating the oral health of a group of women with heart disease showed that they had a larger number of deep gum pockets and fewer teeth than a control group with healthy hearts.
Diabetes, lung diseases and dementia are further life-threatening diseases in which researchers have found a link with inflammation and loose teeth.
Mouth bacteria affect the entire body
The products of inflammation and bacteria from the mouth can spread to the rest of the body through the gums, which are well provided with blood vessels.
Someone with deepened gum pockets and inflamed gums, which is common with loose teeth, may have up to 200 different species of bacteria in their mouth. These can get out into the bloodstream, take root in the walls of blood vessels and contribute to increased hardening of the arteries, which plays a part in heart attacks.
Inflammation in the gums also releases substances, known as cytokines, that cause or precipitate hardening of the arteries. Bacteria and products of inflammation may contribute to a weakening of the blood vessels, making them rupture more easily.
Look after your teeth
Individual care with the right equipment helps to maintain good oral health.
It is important to brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste morning and night. You must also be sure to properly clean all tooth surfaces and between the teeth. To maintain good oral hygiene you need to use good equipment. Dentists and dental hygienists can advise you on oral hygiene issues and how to improve your routine.
Using an electric toothbrush has been shown to be more effective than manual brushes. Choose an electric toothbrush that has brush heads with soft bristles, as hard bristles in combination with powerful oscillation can wear away the enamel and expose root surfaces.
Supplement this with dental floss or a flosser to clean between the teeth.
Visit the dental hygienist or dentist regularly, especially if you know you are in a higher-risk group.