Oral Health and Body Health: The Connection
Gum disease is the most commonly-occuring chronic infectious disease in the world, even more common than the cold and sniffles. Population surveys and studies done in America show that more than 50 percent of Americans have gingivitis and nearly one-third have periodontitis, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone anchoring your teeth. Periodontal disease can happen to just one tooth or a lot of your teeth. Periodontal disease has its origin when the microbes and dental plaque (that clear, sticky buildup forming on your teeth every day) irritate the gums.
It may sound weird, but, the germs from gum disease are able to circulate through your entire body to other organs, such as your heart, digestive system, and lungs. The bottom line is that periodontal disease is a bigger risk factor to one’s health than we thought before. In conclusion, to maintain your overall health, take action now to protect your gums.
Other studies show that any treatment you are receiving for numerous illnesses like cardiovascular disease, lung disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, hip replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and/or pregnancy may be hindered by micro-organisms from the mouth.
The Signposts of Periodontal Disease:
• Blood on your toothbrush after brushing
• Blood on your floss after flossing your teeth
• Aching, shiny red or puffy gums
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth
• Tooth roots becoming exposed
• Untreatable bad breath (halitosis)
• Pus or white film between the teeth
• Discomfort when chewing or biting
• A change in how your teeth come together
• Recently developed spaces between teeth
• Finding food packed up in your gums
Periodontal Disease Likely To Contribute To Diabetes
While adults with diabetes are more prone to periodontal disease, we didn’t know which came first, the diabetes or the periodontal disease. In 1993, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health followed about 9,000 participants who tested negative for diabetes. As the years went by, over 800 of them developed diabetes. What they discovered was if a participant had advanced periodontal disease, they had twice the odds of becoming a diabetic inside of twenty years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet.
According to Dr. Demmer, associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health, “Over twenty years of observing, we can see that research subjects who had periodontitis were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes sometime in the near future when we compare them to those without periodontitis.”
Doctors Are Now Advising You To Make a Dental Hygiene Appointment To Stop Heart Disease
When you visit Gladstone Family Dental Group’s hygienists to help prevent periodontal disease, you are decreasing your chances for developing heart disease.
Studies have discovered that people with periodontal disease have higher odds of also having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria originating from chronic gum disease can spread through the bloodstream and contribute to heart disease and other parts of the body.
Over the last ten years, several studies have concluded that there is a proven connection between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One result of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When gum disease gets bad enough, your teeth can wiggle out.
Researchers in Finland began to investigate the connection between the number of missing teeth in a person and the rate of diagnosed heart disease in the group. They looked at over 1300 men between the ages of 45 and 64. What they discovered was that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from chronic periodontal disease also had a higher incidence of heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the occurrence of stroke by 1000%.
Gum Disease Get’s Into Your Lungs
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with chronic periodontal disease experience more bouts with pneumonia. Therefore, making a periodontal therapy and hygiene appointment is a smart move in diminishing your chances of getting pneumonia again this year.
What This All Means To Dentists
In the past, dental practices vowed to save your teeth with regular cleanings. From now on, we have to expand our focus of care. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, you are more at risk for more serious systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. From now on, as we take care of your mouth, we aren’t just saving your teeth, which in itself is an admirable goal, we could also be protecting your life as well.
Dr. Platt and Dr. Dale conclude, “It’s no longer good enough to just keep watch on at-risk areas in the gums. Instead, attacking gum disease aggressively will become a top priority for maintaining, and improving our patients’ overall health and their enjoyment of life. In fact, it will mean that if our patients’ teeth and gums are not healthy, we can assume that they are not healthy overall.”