(NewsUSA) - Most of us know that oral hygiene is critical to healthy teeth, white smiles and first impressions. But not nearly as many are familiar with the extreme consequences of what can happen if you don't take care of your mouth.
Most individuals have some inflammation of the gums -- i.e. gingivitis -- that goes unchecked. A study published in the National Library of Medicine reports that 10 to 15 percent of adults will develop severe periodontitis, which is an advanced form of gum disease that begins to deteriorate bone, too.
"Gingivitis has always been a major concern for the public," explains Dr. Harold Katz, a bona fide dentist to the stars, who founded the California Breath Clinic in Beverly Hills. Katz, also a bacteriologist, has a legacy of oral care research, including creating the high-quality line of TheraBreath products (www.therabreath.com).
"But more studies are emerging that support the idea that dental health can reflect your overall health, too. Gum disease can contribute to an increased risk for heart disease, and it can worsen diabetes. Bad oral hygiene may even be a risk factor for dementia," Katz added.
According to Katz -- as well as mounting medical research -- poor oral hygiene can lead to many physical problems. The Journal of the American Geriatric Society just released a study showing that elderly people who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia, compared to seniors who brushed daily.
Dental check-ups can also point out other areas of concern among pregnant women. A professor at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting suggested that gum disease can affect healthy conception much like obesity. Plus, pregnant women have a 65 to 70 percent chance of experiencing pregnancy gingivitis, where gums develop exaggerated inflammation and plaque buildup due to fluctuating hormones.
Expectant mothers with gum disease even suffer a higher risk of a premature birth. But oral hygiene can work toward prevention, too. Reuters Health just released findings that indicate pregnant women with gingivitis who use mouthwash have more of a chance of carrying their baby to full term.
Another study recently presented to the American Heart Association revealed that patients who received routine teeth cleanings had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who didn't maintain regular dental care.