Oral Health and Body Health: The Connection

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Sophisticated Smiles Gum Disease Mary

The Signposts of Gum Disease:

• Blood on your toothbrush after brushing your teeth 
• Blood on your floss after flossing your teeth 
• Sore, shiny red or swollen gums 
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth 
• Tooth roots becoming exposed 
• Never-ending bad breath (halitosis) 
• Pus at the gum line 
• Pain when biting down or chewing 
• Recent change in your bite 
• Spaces that have appeared between teeth 
• Finding food packed up in your gums

Gum disease, or more accurately, periodontal disease, is an insidious infection that comes from more than 500 different kinds of microscopic organisms in your mouth that can also attack your body’s vital systems (heart and circulatory, digestive, lungs, kidneys and liver, plus joints and connective tissue).

The CDC estimates that, over 60,000,000 people in the U.S.A. show signs of periodontal (gum) disease, a chronic bacterial infection that can destroy your gums and the bone that supports your teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, waste products from the bacteria slowly destroy your gum tissue. Eventually, the bacteria break through and enter your bloodstream. These circulating bacteria trigger an inflammatory reaction all over your body. For “at risk” patients, this negative factor could have a complicating effect on their pre-existing medical conditions.

Other studies show that any treatment you are receiving for numerous illnesses like heart failure, lung disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, orthopedic replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy could be hindered by germs from gum disease.

Sophisticated Smiles Periodontal Illustration 4

Dentists Are Now Advise Saying, “Ahhh” To Prevent Heart Disease 

When you visit Sophisticated Smiles’s hygienists to help prevent periodontal disease, you are decreasing your chances for developing heart disease. 

Dr. Szierer cites dental research that has discovered that men and women with gum disease have higher odds of also having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria coming from chronic oral infections can spread through the bloodstream and have a contributing effect on heart disease and other parts of the body.

For the past decade, a number of studies have determined that there is a definite association between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One result of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When the gums become very diseased, your teeth will fall out.

Scientists in Finland looked at the correlation between the number of missing teeth in a person and the rate of diagnosed heart disease in the group. They looked at almost 1500 men between the ages of 45 and 64. Their research revealed that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from ongoing gum disease also had a greater likelihood of having heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease raises the danger of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the danger of stroke by 1000%.

Adult-Onset Diabetes Encouraged By Gum Disease

Even though adults with diabetes are more prone to periodontal disease, it hasn’t been clear which comes first. Two decades ago, scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health studied a representative sample of 9,000 participants who showed no symptoms of diabetes. Eventually, 817 of them tested positive for diabetes. The researchers found that those with serious gum disease had twice the odds of suffering from diabetes within the following two decades, even when age, smoking, obesity and diet were figured in to the equation.

“These facts give credence to the idea that oral infection brings on diabetes,” according to Dr. Demmer, associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.

The Relationship Between Gum Disease And Pneumonia

According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with chronic periodontal disease experience more bouts with pneumonia. So, taking action now to address your periodontal disease is priority #1 for lowering your odds of coming down with pneumonia and getting really sick.

What This All Means To Dentists

In the past, dental professionals strived to save your teeth through regular dental care. Today, there is a broader dimension to dental care. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, you’re in danger of developing more serious systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. Today, as we manage the health of your teeth, we aren’t just saving your teeth, which in itself is a very good outcome, we could also be protecting your life as well.

Dr. Szierer concludes, “It is no longer good enough to just keep an eye on trouble spots in the gums. Given this new research, aggressively controlling periodontal disease will be a critical action step in maintaining, and improving our patients’ overall health and their enjoyment of life. To be exact, our patients will not be totally healthy unless they are periodontally healthy.”

Contact Us

  • Sophisticated Smiles
  • Mark Szierer, DMD
  • 85 Reaville Ave
  • Flemington, NJ 08822
  • Phone: (908) 806-4333
  • Fax: (908) 806-2024

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