Half the world oblivious to link between oral hygiene and overall health
pharmafile | July 14, 2021 | News story | Research and Development |
A new study from GSK’s consumer healthcare business and Ipsos has shown that half of the world (49%) doesn’t know that poor tooth-brushing habits increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and exacerbates conditions like diabetes.
Additionally, three-fifths (59%) of the UK population were unaware of this link to heart disease and 70% of Brits were oblivious to the risks of poor oral health for pregnancy and birth weight.
The study, with 4,500 participants across 9 countries, shows the importance for raising awareness of the link between oral hygiene and overall health.
Awareness was particularly low on the risks during pregnancy, where higher hormone levels can change the way the body reacts to plaque build-up, causing swollen gums, an early sign of gum disease.
Pregnant women with severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis, are more at risk of giving birth prematurely, suffer pre-eclampsia, or have a baby with low birth weight – meaning good oral health habits and seeking advice from healthcare professionals are critical.
However, just 47% of respondents to the survey were aware that good oral healthcare can support a healthier pregnancy, with lower risk of complications.
In terms of diabetes, poor oral health can cause gum inflammation and infection. This can make it harder for the body to control blood sugar levels, and respond appropriately to insulin.
People with severe gum disease are at higher risk of heart disease. The bacteria that attack gums can spread throughout the body in the bloodstream and can cause inflammation. 56% of respondents were aware that good oral health habits can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Professor Nicola X West, Professor Restorative Dentistry (Periodontology) at Bristol Dental School, said: “The association between oral health and overall health is well-documented by the scientific community.
“However, public awareness of the wider benefits of careful tooth-brushing, taking care of your oral cavity, and regular dentist visits remains worryingly low.
“There is a real need to show consumers that it can be more than their smile put at risk if they don’t take care of their mouths properly.”
Dr Stephen Mason, Medical Lead, GSK Consumer Healthcare Oral Health, said: “Being healthy isn’t all about broadcasting your runs or snapping photos at the gym – it can be the most mundane, behind-the-scenes habits that have the biggest impact.
“Good oral care habits like good, regular tooth-brushing using proven effective consumer healthcare products (toothpaste, mouth rinse, and floss) are no exception.
“We need to show people the power of getting these habits right due to the many positive effects this can have on overall health, ultimately reducing the risk of developing a number of health conditions in the long term.