Dirty Teeth = Health Hazard
CHEYENNE -- An unchecked infection anywhere in the body has the potential to spread.
And few places are as vulnerable as the mouth.
"The tooth is the only organ of the body that crosses the skin," local dentist Dr. Ed Clark said Tuesday. "It needs a tight seal or bacteria can get in."
Members of the Wyoming Dental Association launched a statewide educational campaign called "Your Teeth, Your Health, For Life" to highlight the connection between oral decay and general health Tuesday.
Tooth decay, gum disease and cavities are linked to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Television, radio and print advertisements will stress the importance of brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups.
The campaign also targets the state's most vulnerable populations: children and older adults.
Cheyenne dentist Dr. Brad Kincheloe said mouth bacteria are normal, but germs can multiply to unhealthy levels without teeth cleanings.
A germy buildup also can weaken a body's natural defenses. The immune system cannot fight a cold or influenza if all of its resources are aimed elsewhere.
Clark said fewer teeth equal a higher body mass index. Patients with a full set chew their food more effectively and choose healthier options.