The strong connection between dental health and body health is not obvious to most people. As technological advances in medical science progress we are learning more about how connected they really are. Medical studies are now proving that having gum disease or an infection in your mouth does not mean it stays in your mouth. What’s worse is often, due to lack of symptoms, gum infection is un-diagnosed or untreated.
Poor dental health causes bacteria to multiply, combine with sugars in foods and create acids. These acids are what attach to the teeth causing cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, infections and periodontitis. Once there is an infection in the gums your immune system will move in to attack the infection causing the gums to become inflamed. Over time the chemicals released from the inflammation eats away at the gums and bone structure that hold your teeth in place. The result is severe gum disease also known as periodontitis.
The bacteria found in gum disease and gum infections in the mouth travel via the bloodstream to the rest of the body where it can cause or exacerbate an array of systemic diseases.
Heart Disease and Stroke
There is a direct link between gum disease and heart function. People with gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease. Bacteria found in gum disease and gum infections in the mouth travel via the bloodstream to the body and heart. The more bacteria that is found in your mouth, the more bacteria you could have in your heart. This bacteria in the blood stream causes swelling and inflammation of the blood vessels and heart, which reduces blood flow and increases the risk of clots and stroke. Oral bacteria sticks to fatty plaques in the blood stream, directly contributing to blockages.
The link between diabetes and inflammatory gum disease has been studied extensively for more than 50 years. When you have gum disease and diabetes, they work hand in hand to lower your insulin processing ability. The inflammation from the gum disease weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Studies have shown that an increase in gum infection is largely associated with diabetes.
Gum disease has proven to have a strong association to several types of systemic cancers such as oral cancer, upper GI and gastric cancers, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and esophageal cancer.
Recently, studies have found evidence that gum disease may be a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The oral infection caused by gum disease can travel directly or through systemic systems to the brain and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Your gum disease can also have an effect on your unborn baby. The bacteria caused by gum disease that enters into your blood stream can target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low birth weight babies.
The great news is that with your Dentist’s assistance, severe periodontal or gum disease is treatable! Always practice healthy brushing and flossing habits to keep gum disease at bay. Be sure to attend regular hygiene visits so that your dentist and hygienist can monitor your oral health. This is the best way to ensure early detection of any problems and lessen your risk of systemic diseases by getting treatment as soon as possible. We can help.
Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.