February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and it offers a reminder to parents to prioritize their child’s dental health. For children especially, dental health is important because the health of primary teeth can change quickly. Even in just the six months between regularly dental visits, diet or hygiene changes, along with oral habits like thumb-sucking, can open the door to tooth decay or misalignment. However, once individuals reach adulthood, those regular dental visits they had as kids begin to fall away. According to the “Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States” survey conducted by the American Dental Association, only 37 percent of adults have visited a dentist in the past year. By comparison, 65 percent of children visited a dentist in the past year. Why is dental health important for adults? The impact of poor oral health on adults is sometimes obvious. Individuals with poor oral hygiene report anxiety and embarrassment due to the condition of their teeth. Between 35 and 40 percent of adults that reported poor oral condition have reported feelings of anxiety and embarrassment, and avoid smiling. Many of those attribute their poor oral health to their inability to interview well for jobs or find a mate. But dental health is important for more reasons than mere attractiveness. Adults that do not take proper care of their teeth are at higher risk for disease and chronic conditions. What conditions are connected to poor oral health? Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria are connected to larger health conditions. According to Mayo Clinic, the following health conditions can be related to poor oral health:
- Endocarditis: This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Pneumonia: Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
As if living with psoriasis isn’t enough. When one has psoriasis, there are other conditions that those living with it are prone to. See the full list below. Psoriatic arthritis. One in every three people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. However, some people have psoriatic arthritis without developing psoriasis. Cardiovascular disease. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, if you have severe psoriasis, your chance of having a major cardiac event is 58 percent higher than that of people who don't have psoriasis, and your risk for stroke is 43 percent higher. Diabetes. People with severe psoriasis are 46 percent more likely to also have type 2 diabetes, and those with mild psoriasis are 11 percent more likely — even in the absence of traditional risk factors for this form of diabetes, such as obesity. Inflammation can cause or exacerbate insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Mood disorders. One in every four people with psoriasis experience depression, when they have psoriasis. This likely results from the pain, anxiety, and decreased self-esteem that often accompanies the disease. Cancer. Psoriasis has also been associated with an increased risk for certain cancers, such squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma. One study found that people with psoriasis are 40 percent more likely to develop certain types of cancer than the general population are, but the actual cause of this increased cancer risk is still unclear Obesity. People with psoriasis are more likely to be obese than people without psoriasis, with a 30 percent increased risk for those with mild psoriasis and an 80 percent increased risk for those with severe psoriasis. Kidney disease. Researchers found a 36 percent greater risk of kidney disease for those with moderate psoriasis and 58 percent greater risk for those with severe psoriasis. However, if your psoriasis is mild — defined as affecting 2 percent or less of your total body surface — your risk usually will be no greater than that of the general population. Peptic ulcers. People with psoriasis are 22 percent more likely to get ulcers than people without psoriasis. High cholesterol. High levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol are also more common among people with psoriasis. In fact, psoriasis brings a 28 percent increased risk for high cholesterol compared to the risk among the general public. If you have psoriasis and have questions about other conditions that may arise, speak with your doctor.