Adults with gingivitis (swollen, bleeding gums) performed worse on tests of memory and other cognitive skills than did those with healthier gums and mouths, according to a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Those with gingivitis were more likely to perform poorly on two tests: delayed verbal recall and subtraction -- both skills used in everyday life.
Reduces Risks of Infection and Inflammation in Your Body
Poor oral health has been linked with the development of infection in other parts of the body. In one study, poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease was associated with the development of pneumonia in older people. Bacteria in the mouth can travel into the lungs, causing infection or worsening of lung conditions.
Other research has found an association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Experts say the mechanism of destruction of connective tissues in both gum disease and RA is similar. Eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce your risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Using an antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste can help reduce bacteria in the mouth that can cause gingivitis.
Helps Keep Blood Sugar Stable if You Have Diabetes
People with uncontrolled diabetes often have gum disease. Having diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to serious gum disease.
And some experts have found that if you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop more severe gum problems than someone without diabetes.
That, in turn, may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
Reducing your risk of gingivitis by protecting your oral health may help with blood sugar control if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Helps Pregnant Women Carry a Baby to Term
Women may experience increased gingivitis during pregnancy. Some research suggests a relationship between gum disease and preterm, low-birth-weight infants.
Not all studies have found a solid link, but maintaining good oral health is still the best goal. If you're pregnant, visit your dentist or periodontist as part of your prenatal care. Consider it good practice for the role modeling that lies ahead for all new parents.