A simple trip to the dentist could prevent you developing serious illness

You’d all be familiar with the benefits of seeing your dentist on a regular basis for good oral health, but what about when it comes to preventing illness?

According to research out of the United States, if you don’t get to your dentist regularly you are doubling your risk of pneumonia… Even if you are fit and healthy.

“For too long, oral health has been considered separate from general health,” says Martin Hall, head of the North Richmond Community Health in Victoria.

Not only can poor oral health be bad for your teeth, but it can impact your ability to speak properly, disrupt your sleep and productivity, have a negative influence on your heart health, and completely discount any benefit of exercise.

The US research looked at more than 26,000 people and how they use health care services, including trips tot he dentist. It found that almost 2 per cent of those studied had suffered pneumonia, but those who didn’t see the dentist regularly were 86 per cent more likely to develop pneumonia than those who saw their dentist at least twice a year.

Ad. Article continues below.

According to the study’s lead author, Michelle Doll, bacteria the causes pneumonia such as streptococcus and staphylococcus can be accidentally inhaled or aspirated into the lungs. However, catching up with your dentist on a regular basis significantly reduces the amount of bacteria that could be aspirated, thereby reducing your risk of developing the condition.

“We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether,” Doll says. “Our study provides further evidence that oral health is linked to overall health, and suggests it’s important to incorporate dental care into routing preventative health care.”

What was the last time you visited your dentist? Have you ever had pneumonia? What do you think of studies such as this one?