Brush your teeth! Bad oral hygiene linked to cancer, heart attacks and renal failure

It is normal to have bacteria in your mouth. But harmful bacteria are linked to many health problems. Medical scientist Glenda Davidson and microbiologist Yvonne Prince, who studies the oral cavity, explain why maintaining good oral hygiene is so important.

Can poor oral hygiene lead to serious illness? Why and how?

Abnormal bacterial communities in the mouth have been linked to liver disease, kidney failure, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

The mouth is the gateway to the gastrointestinal tract and the rest of the body.

Like the intestines, the mouth is home to diverse bacterial, fungal, viral and protozoan colonies. It is the second largest microbial community in humans, after the gut.

The oral cavity is home to more than 700 species of microorganisms. New technologies such as 16S rRNA analysis allow researchers to study their genetic makeup and family tree.

These microorganisms are found throughout the mouth: in and around the teeth, gums, tongue, palate, and saliva. They usually remain stable throughout our lives, but if the balance of the bacterial community is disrupted, harmful bacteria can become dominant. This can lead to bleeding gums and oral diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

How can oral problems lead to other diseases?

It is known that changes in pH (acidity or alkalinity), temperature and oxygen in the mouth can cause abnormal growth of normally harmless bacterial populations. When they become dominant, they can cause disease.

This disruption of oral biota leads to inflammation and the slow progression of periodontitis, bleeding gums, and tooth decay. When gum disease destroys the gums and begins to eat away at the bone, inflammatory molecules called cytokines enter the bloodstream.

These chemicals activate immune cells and may cause low-grade chronic inflammation and contribute to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis or thickening of arteries, and even obesity. The bacteria themselves can also move from the gums to surrounding tissues and release toxins that can travel throughout the body.

Likewise, the gut is home to more than 1,000 species of bacteria that reside in the large intestine and play vital roles in digestion, absorption, immunity, and protection against toxins and harmful bacteria.

Humans cannot survive without a healthy, diverse gut biota. If this well-balanced microbial community is disturbed and cannot be restored, gastrointestinal disorders may develop.

Recent studies have linked abnormal gut biomes to conditions as diverse as autoimmunity, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer's disease.

Read more: Microbiome: Certain gut microbes may sound warning signs of Alzheimer’s before first symptoms appear

Where do the bacteria in the body come from?

It all starts with our microbes, the tiny organisms we share our bodies with and are vital to human health. There are 39 trillion microorganisms in the human body, more than the estimated 30 trillion human cells, and they inhabit nearly every organ and crevice in the human body. They are found in the intestines, skin, lungs, semen and vaginal fluids, eyes, scalp and mouth.

Each habitat has its own environment, attracting different creatures that adapt to their surroundings and call them home. They work synergistically with each other and surrounding tissues. If this relationship is disrupted, disease can result.

Most of these microorganisms come from our mothers and enter our bodies when we are born. The uterus is sterile, but as the baby travels down the birth canal into the outside world, bacteria and other microorganisms take over the newborn baby and create a unique ecosystem called the human microbiome.

As we grow and begin to explore the world, these microbes become more diverse and are influenced by our diet, lifestyle, interactions with animals and the environment. Maintaining this balance is important to reduce the risk of disease.

What should people do to avoid these risks?

Good dental hygiene includes regular dental checkups, regular brushing to prevent plaque buildup, and avoiding foods high in carbohydrates and sugar, which can lead to increased cavities and cavities.

To further support the balance of oral bacteria, it is recommended that our diet include antioxidant-rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dentists also recommend avoiding antibacterial mouthwashes, which have been shown to disrupt the balance of microorganisms. Overuse can cause interference and stimulate bacterial species that may cause illness.

Elevated stress levels and lack of exercise have also been linked to disruptions in the balance of oral biota. Therefore, a balanced diet and adequate rest are recommended, as well as maintaining good dental hygiene.

The mouth is the gateway to the intestines and the rest of the body. Ensuring the harmony of the microbes living there is important to reduce the risk of disease.

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