Most people don't realize it, but runaway dental infections can be treacherous. They have eaten through the skin in people's necks, chocked off airways, migrated to the heart, buttowed into brains and, yes even killed people
Have we scared you enough yet?
Everyone is vulnerable, because bacteria that routinely lurk in the mouth cause tooth decay and gum disease. The problem is that most people don't realize that they have these infections. They often cause no pain and few symptoms, but can lead to far worse. And according to recent clinical trials, gum disease may also heighten the risk for heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and premature birth.
But the good news is that with regular brushing and flossing, you can prevent all that. And by seeing your dentist often, you can stop most problems before they worsen.
Regular dental checkups can pay off in other ways too. For example, dentists can detect signs of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, along with a variety of rare skin and autoimmune diseases. Since people typically visit their dentists more often than they visit other doctors, that can lead to early diagnosis and early treatment, all of which means that your dentist can do much more than save your teeth and gums. Your dentist can save your life.
Americans have brighter smiles than ever before, thanks to teeth-whitening systems. But behind those gleaming smiles, all is not well. Oral health has improved some in recent decades. Since more children are being treated with dental sealants, the incidence of mild gum disease (gingivitis) has decreased about 40 percent since the 1960s. And reports show that untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth has decreased slightly since the late 1980s.
But here's the bad news: One in three Americans over age 30 still have more advanced gum disease known as periodontitis; more than nine in ten Americans have at least some tooth decay; and nearly three in ten adults over 65 have no teeth at all.
Healthy teeth and gums let us talk, smile, laugh and kiss without embarrassment. That's reason enough to take care of our oral health. So brush twice a day, floss daily, get dental checkups every six months, or see a dentist promptly if you have a problem.