Serving patients of Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN
There are many, many drawbacks to poor dental care, of which some are more readily apparent than others. For example, one potential consequence of imperfectly maintained teeth is pain: poor dental care can lead to cavities (which can make teeth sensitive to hot, cold, and sugar), and inflamed gums. Teeth that are not properly aligned can hurt, and can cause grinding which can lead to tongue thrust and so-called “burning tongue” syndrome, as well as headaches.
Insufficient oral health can also have social consequences. There is the possibility for changes in appearance, as teeth that are not well cared for can become discolored or even missing. This last is potentially noticeable in and of itself, but it can also lead to a sunken appearance and wrinkles. If teeth are missing, it may make it more difficult to speak. Lack of dental care can lead to bad breath, and teeth that hurt can compel a person to avoid certain kinds of foods (and by extension, events where those foods are served). If nothing else, it can make a person self-conscious.
Yet as inconvenient or even nerve-wracking as these outcomes can be, there is always the chance that lack of attention to dental care can lead to other health conditions that can be serious, even life-threatening. What are some of these conditions?
As was already mentioned, lack of adequate dental care can lead to gum disease, which is bad enough in and of itself: it can mean pain and tooth loss. Worse than that, periodontal disease can spread to the jaw and cause bone resorption, whereby the bone of a jaw disintegrates. This risk is very pronounced if a tooth is missing.
Bad tooth alignment – and especially bad alignment caused by the loss of a tooth, which will often cause remaining teeth to shift – can lead to bruxism (grinding), as was mentioned earlier. Bruxism can also lead to temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are essentially sliding hinges – one on each side of the head – which connect the lower jaw to the skull. They are also responsible for allowing the mouth to open and close. A distressed TMJ can make chewing, drinking, swallowing, speaking, singing, or even yawning uncomfortable, even agonizing.
Poor dental care and life-threatening conditions
In sufficiently advanced cases, poor dental care can lead to oral pain so severe that it can restrict the diet, and can do so to such an extent that it might threaten the intake of vitamins and minerals, and can even cause malnutrition. Malnutrition then can lead to hair loss, difficulty concentrating, lethargy, weakness, and muscle loss, among many other conditions.
As far back as 1999, studies have shown that the buildup of bacteria in the mouth can greatly increase the risks associated with pneumonia, and have likewise shown that proper dental attention reduces these risks, especially in the elderly.
Likewise, scientists have noted that excessive bacteria can invade the bloodstream of pregnant women and even attack the fetus, causing premature birth and low birth weight.
Additionally, a researcher from the University of Illinois Chicago conducted an experiment in 2019 which studies the effect of periodontal disease on the cells of the pancreas and liver cells. It concludes that these organs respond to periodontal disease in such a way that it presents a greater risk for diabetes.
This same researcher confirms the findings of a different study from the previous year in Europe, which shows the connection between poor dental care and tooth loss on an enhanced risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Scientists have also begun to observe links in laboratory experiments between bad teeth and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Health risks of poor dental care
Teeth in poor condition bring a risk of unpleasantness at the very least: changes in diet, in a person’s looks, in their speech, and bad breath are all outcomes which most people would want to avoid. However, poor dental care can lead to much more dire situations that can even be fatal. Yet for all that, there is good news: proper dental care can prevent or repair many of these conditions. A consultation with a dentist will be the best possible way to be put on the path of good oral health, or to maintain that health for the future.
Accepting New Dental Patients in Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN
Our team at Tusculum Dental Care, is committed to helping each of our patients improve their oral health. We are more than happy to assist you in any dental area in which you may have questions or need assistance. If it’s been more than six months since your last trip to the dentist, now is a great time to get back on track. Visit us online or call us at (423) 639-7575 to book an appointment today at one of our two locations.