Gingivitis (gum disease) and Periodontitis (periodontal disease) affect close to 70 million Americans over the age of 30.
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting inflammation (swelling) caused by oral diseases can cause or augment systemic diseases and their causative factors. While the relationship is not causal, the ADA (American Dental Association) explains the relationship between oral disease and systemic health and disease as one where the conditions are related but caused by different factors. For example, smokers are at a higher risk of heart disease and gum disease, however, heart disease does not cause gum disease.
There are links and studies to show connection between oral health and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.
Hardening of arteries caused by inflammation causes decreased blood flow to the heart leading to heart attacks and angina. The bacteria that cause gum disease, can easily enter the body through the gums and find their way in the heart. These bacteria have been linked to causing hardening of arteries and blood vessels. Reducing gum disease, improves the health of gums and reduces the chances of bacteria entering the blood vessels via this route. The mouth is the biggest opening to the outside world of microbes and its health is paramount to the overall health of body.
We already know people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease which is why we always recommend aggressive oral hygiene routine and professional cleaning for diabetic patients. However, gum disease has been shown to affect blood glucose control which in turn then worsens the diabetes which in turn again worsens gum disease. It is a circle that can only be stopped by controlling gum disease.
Researchers have found an increase risk of ischemic stroke when patients have severe periodontitis, specially in men over 60 years of age. Inflammation can cause blockage of blood vessels leading to lack of oxygen and consequential stroke.
There is an increased incidence of cancer in patients with gum disease. Researchers report a 14% over all increase in breast cancer in women. The incidence of kidney and prostate cancer increase by about 50% as well in both men and women who have gum disease.
Pregnancy and Preterm Baby
Gum disease can affect your pregnancy and your baby exponentially. Studies have found preterm labor is three times more likely in pregnant women with gum disease. There is also an increased risk for gum disease during pregnancy and menstruation due to higher levels of hormones which causes certain periodontal bacteria to thrive. We always recommend proactive scaling and root planning (oral hygiene appointment) during pregnancy to reduce the risks.
While these are only some of the connections and links found so far, researchers are working on finding more links. Governments and health insurance companies across the world are shifting their focus to improving oral health based on these studies and are finding reduced health care costs.
More and more studies are finding links between the health of the brain and the oral health. We are now almost certain that dementia, Alzheimers and other brain function diseases are caused or enhanced by inflammation.
We, at Stouffville Smiles Dentistry, strive to stay ahead of the curve and are always available to educate our patients on the importance of optimum oral health and preventive dentistry. We using cutting edge techniques, equipment, materials and education to help our patients achieve this.
Looking for a new dental home? Give us a call today to book an appointment and start investing in your oral health and overall health!