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Oral Health and Body Health: The Connection

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Gum disease, or more accurately, periodontal disease, is an insidious infection involving about five hundred types of microscopic organisms in your mouth that are known to also attack the organs of your body.

The latest results show, more than 60 million Americans have symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease, a chronic bacterial infection affecting the gums and bone supporting your teeth. As gum disease continues unchecked, bacterial waste products break down your gum tissue, allowing bacteria to enter the blood and lymph circulatory systems. These circulating bacteria generate inflammation throughout the body. For seniors, children and anyone with a weakened immune system, this negative factor is likely to have a complicating effect on their pre-existing medical conditions.

Research results also show that medicine for various illnesses especially heart problems, lung disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, hip replacement, kidney failure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy could be hindered by germs from gum disease.

Stone Gum Disease AnneThe Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:• Blood on your toothbrush after brushing 

• Blood on your floss after flossing your teeth
• Aching, inflamed or puffy gum tissue
• Wobbly and/or loose teeth
• Gum tissue pulling back from teeth
• Untreatable bad breath (halitosis)
• Pus between the teeth
• Pain when you chew or bite on something
• A change in how your teeth come together
• Spaces that have appeared between teeth
• Finding food packed up in your gums

Stone Periodontal Illustration 3

Periodontal Disease Likely To Cause Type II Diabetes

Even though adults with diabetes are known to be at risk for gum disease, it hasn’t been clear which comes first. Two decades ago, scientists at Columbia University’s School of Public Health reviewed a representative sample of 9,000 people who were not diabetics. Eventually, 817 of them became diabetics. It was found that if a person had advanced periodontal disease, they had twice the odds of testing positive for diabetes in the next twenty years, even if the person had other risk factors, including:
• smoking
• being elderly
• being obese
• eating an unhealthy diet.

“These facts match up with the theory that periodontal disease contributes to the development of diabetes,” according to Dr. Demmer, associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.

Dr. Stone Is Now Advising You To Make a Dental Hygiene Appointment To Stop Heart Disease 

By allowing Dr. Stone to help prevent periodontal disease, you are saying, “No” to developing heart disease. 

Recent research has discovered that adults with gum disease have a significantly greater chance of having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria shed by persistent oral infections can spread through the bloodstream and contribute to disease in the heart and other parts of the body.

Over the last ten years, several studies have concluded that there is a proven connection 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 can wiggle out.

Scientists in Finland 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 between the ages of 45 and 64. The researchers discovered 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 has been found to increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the likelihood of having a stroke by 1000%.

With Periodontal Disease, Each Breath Could Be Dangerous To Your Lungs

People with chronic periodontal disease (10% of the general population and 50% of all seniors) experience more bouts with pneumonia. Therefore, seeing Dr. Stone is the first step for reducing your chance of spending a week in the hospital with pneumonia.

What This All Means To Dentists

Yesterday, dental professionals committed to saving your teeth through regular dental care. From now on, our attention must expand beyond the mouth. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, it puts you at a higher risk for more serious systemic problems, whether it’s heart problems, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. From now on, as we take care of your mouth, we’re not just saving your teeth, which in itself is a very good objective, we could also be protecting your life as well.

Dr. Stone concludes, “It is not enough anymore to just keep an eye on trouble spots in the gum tissue. Given this new research, eradicating gum 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.”