Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

Chestnut Green Dental Gum Disease MitchThe Signposts of Gum Disease:

• Bleeding gums after brushing your teeth 
• Blood on your floss after flossing 
• Painful, shiny red or puffy gum tissue 
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth 
• Gums receding around the teeth 
• Chronic bad breath (halitosis) 
• Pus between the teeth 
• Discomfort when chewing or biting 
• Noticeable changes in your bite 
• Recently developed spaces between teeth 
• Finding food packed up in your gums

Regularly scheduled hygiene visits coupled with periodontal therapy could possibly keep you alive and healthy longer, according to research . It may sound weird, but, the infectious bacteria in your gums are able to move all over your entire body arriving at vital organs, joints and muscles. We see, now, that it’s extremely important to schedule regular visits for dental hygiene and periodontal therapy and to stay vigilant about preventing gum disease.

“Gum disease and inconsistent dental treatment are red flags when it comes to failing health and premature death,” explains health and wellness author, Dr. Michael F. Roizen in his classic book, Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be? That’s because gum disease is a contributor to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, digestive problems, osteoporosis, and immune disorders. Most people don’t realize it, however, adding up the total infected area of gum disease around the teeth and in your gums, gum disease is like having an open wound the size of a silver dollar. Of course, “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. If you had an open sore that big on your face, you would make it a priority to get it treated.

Research has also shown treatment for various internal conditions like heart problems, pulmonary disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, hip replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and, finally, pregnancy might be obstructed by germs from gum disease.

Chestnut Green Dental Periodontal Illustration 4

Dentists Are Now Recommending Periodontal Therapy To Stop Heart Disease 

By allowing Dr. Cornwell to treat your gum disease, you are saying, “No” to developing heart attack and heart failure. 

Understand that the way that gum disease affects your heart is that periodontal disease launches a domino run of chemical events that cause inflammation, or swelling, across the entire body. If the arteries become inflamed and constricted, blood clots can form, bringing about heart attack or stroke. If that weren’t bad enough, gum disease germs may also stick to the inner heart lining, which may cause infective endocarditis.

Over the last ten years, several studies have concluded that there is a proven connection between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One inevitability of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When the gums become very diseased, your teeth can wiggle 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 over 1300 men between the ages of 45 and 64. Their research revealed that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from sustained oral infections resulting from 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 danger of stroke by 1000%.

The Connection Between Gum Disease And Pulmonary Disease

According to numerous studies, oral disease can compromise your lungs. First, bacteria from your gum tissue enter the saliva. It may then adhere to water vapor carried by the air you inhale with every breath. The water droplets mixed with the bacteria land on your lungs, potentially causing pulmonary infection and pneumonia. This can be very dangerous for the aged or people who have a low immunity level, especially those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Gum Disease May Cause Type II Diabetes

Even though diabetics are known to be at risk for gum disease, it hasn’t been clear which comes first. Twenty years ago, researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health reviewed over 9,000 participants who tested negative for diabetes. At the end, over 800 of of the 9,000 went on to develop the disease. The researchers found that if a participant had advanced periodontal disease, they were almost twice as likely of testing positive for diabetes within the following two decades, 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 two decades of tracking, it becomes obvious that participants who had periodontal disease were twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes within 20 years when compared to individuals without periodontal disease.”

What This All Means To Dentists

Previously, dental professionals vowed to save your teeth through regular dental care. Today, we have to expand our focus of 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 take care of your mouth, not only do we save your teeth, which in itself is an admirable outcome, we could also be protecting your life as well.

Dr. Cornwell concludes, “It is no longer good enough to just keep watch on trouble spots in the gum tissue. Instead, eradicating gum disease will become a critical action step in preserving 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.”