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Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

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Periodontal disease, usually called gum disease, is an insidious infection that comes from as many as 500 varieties of microscopic organisms in your mouth that also can assault your body’s vital systems (heart and circulatory, digestive, lungs, kidneys and liver, plus joints and connective tissue).

The CDC estimates that, more than 60 million Americans have symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease, a slowly-developing bacterial infection that breaks down your gums and the bone that supports the teeth. As gum disease continues unchecked, enzymes excreted by the bacteria break down the gum tissue. This allows the bacteria to access your bloodstream. These dangerous invaders cause an inflammatory response throughout the body. For “at risk” patients, this new assault could have a complicating effect on their pre-existing medical conditions.

Other studies show that any treatment you are receiving for numerous illnesses such as heart failure, lung disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, orthopedic replacement, kidney failure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and, finally, pregnancy may be diminished by micro-organisms from the mouth.

Stone Gum Disease MaryThe Red Flags of Periodontal Disease:• Blood on your toothbrush after brushing your teeth 

• Gums bleeding after flossing
• Aching, red or puffy gums
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth
• Tooth roots becoming exposed
• Untreatable sour breath (halitosis)
• Pus or white film between the teeth
• Pain when biting down or chewing
• Recent change in your bite
• Spaces that have appeared between teeth
• Food “packing” into your gums

Stone Periodontal Illustration 1Experts Are Now Advising Saying, “Ahhh” To Avoid Heart Disease 

By coming to see our hygienists to treat your gum disease, you are decreasing your chances for developing heart attack and heart failure. 

Studies have shown that people with gum disease have a significantly greater chance of having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria coming from persistent gum disease can spread through the bloodstream and have a contributing effect on heart disease and other parts of the body.

Over the last ten years, several 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 gum disease gets bad enough, your teeth will fall out.

Finnish researchers 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 almost 1500 men aged 45 to 64 years. Their research revealed that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from ongoing gum 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 having a stroke by a factor of 10.

Periodontal Disease Get’s Into Your Lungs

People with chronic periodontal disease (10% of the general population and 50% of all seniors) are most susceptible to pneumonia. Logically, then, making a periodontal therapy and hygiene appointment is a smart move in lowering your odds of getting pneumonia again this year.

Adult-Onset Diabetes Intertwined With Gum Disease

For years it was known that people who have diabetes are more prone to also contract periodontal disease. Science is now suggesting that it may work both ways: those who have chronic gum disease are more likely to get diabetes. Researchers looked at results from an ongoing U.S. health study and uncovered the fact that those who had ongoing periodontitis when the survey started twenty years ago were more likely to get diabetes.
This study appears to prove the theory that patients with chronic infections like periodontitis are more likely to eventually suffer from diabetes.

Finally, did you know:
• The American Diabetes Association says gum disease causes diabetes.
• People with periodontal disease are 200% more likely to have insulin resistance.
• When Type II diabetics also have elevated gum disease, they are seven times more likely to die.

What This All Means To Dentists

Previously, dentists strived to save your teeth through regular dental care. In the future, 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. In the future, as we manage the health of your teeth, we’re not just saving your teeth, which in itself is a very good objective, we might just be saving your life as well.

Dr. Stone concludes, “It’s no longer good enough to just keep an eye on trouble spots in the gums. Given this new research, aggressively controlling periodontal disease will become 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.”