Taking care of your body with proper nutrition, exercise, and avoiding drug and alcohol abuse can help you live longer and reduce the risk of death from preventable health problems. Regulating your diet and increasing activity can keep problems like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes at bay; however, one issue that is often overlooked by a large percentage of Americans is the importance of proper oral health. Even if you brush regularly, neglecting proper oral habits can lead to several serious health issues that could shorten your life.

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease, or hardening of the arteries, can cause a severe heart attack, stroke, and death. However, when you neglect your oral health and develop gum disease or infected teeth, the risk is even greater. The bacteria you swallow as a result of poor oral health enters the bloodstream, where it can travel to and block the arteries. When this happens, plaque starts to build and reduces blood flow to the heart. Eventually, the arteries become so blocked that it causes heart damage or failure.

Keeping your mouth free of built-up bacteria can lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke, especially if you are otherwise healthy. Track your oral habits carefully, brush at least three times a day with a toothpaste that kills bacteria, and take note of any sensitivity in your gums that could signal a problem.

2. An Increased Risk of Lung Disease

While you might already be aware of how smoking and secondhand smoke can damage your lungs, neglecting your oral health may harm them as well. Gum disease and infections from sores or decayed teeth breed bacteria that enters the lungs as you breathe. Over time, this bacterium multiplies and can cause illnesses such as chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.

Because repeated lung problems can affect your long-term health and ability to remain mobile, it is wise to care for your gums and ward off gingivitis. Sensitivity and bleeding when you brush could signal the start of this disease, so talk to your dentist about these symptoms and what you can do to improve the health of your gums.

3. Mouth Sores and Tumors

When you do not brush or floss properly or often enough, dental plaque and tartar can build below the gumline and breed bacteria. If the problem is not dealt with in time, bacteria could cause sores and tumors to develop on the roof or your mouth or your tongue. While this problem is usually more common with smokers, oral neglect can also be a cause.

If you discover a mouth sore while brushing, it is not something to be shrugged off. Avoid poking or prodding the area and contact your dentist as soon as possible, as some sores could be cancerous and early treatment is often your best chance for resolving the issue.

4. Kidney Disease

Your kidneys are the filters of the body, along with the liver, and help it pass toxins and waste to prevent illness and keep other organs working normally. However, when you neglect your oral health, bacteria may weaken the body and force the kidneys to work harder. When this happens, they might not function as they should and you might experience frequent kidney, bladder, and urinary tract infections.

You can keep bacteria levels in your body low by using a daily mouth rinse. These rinses can freshen breath, wash away plaque, and leave your mouth feeling clean. You can ask your dentist which brand is best suited to your specific oral needs.

5. Cancer

Poor oral health and cancer have been linked in a series of medical studies, but not in the way you might think. Tobacco use and mouth cancer have definite ties; however, some medical professionals have discovered that the risk for prostate, pancreatic, and blood cancer are significantly higher for those who have decayed teeth and gum disease, even if they do not smoke.

If you have dental problems and develop a change in bowel habits, fatigue, and unexplained bruising, these could be signs of cancer. However, it is important to stay calm and see your doctor as soon as possible. New blood tests and other technologies created by doctors like Harry Stylli can detect problems early and allow both you and your physician to create a viable treatment plan if any cancer is discovered.

6. Decreased Sexual Performance

Tooth decay, gingivitis, and chronic oral problems can affect your performance in the bedroom. When you continuously swallow the bacteria created by these oral diseases, it can enter the bloodstream and decrease blood flow to the genitals. As a result, you may experience erectile problems or difficulty achieving orgasm.

While other factors can affect sexual satisfaction, poor oral can have an impact in more than one way. Kissing and intimate contact can be unpleasant due to bad breath, and bad teeth might impact your self-esteem. Taking care of your oral health can help you prevent these problems completely.

Proper oral health means more than creating a confident smile. It can also prevent serious health problems that might have serious consequences and could even shorten your life.