Investing in your teeth is an investment in your health.
Our Dental team is committed to staying abreast of current research in dentistry. In the interest of good health, it is important to be informed of the latest research regarding periodontal disease, heart disease, chronic infections and other related health issues.
INFECTIONS GO BODY-WIDE
More than 400 species of bacteria live in the human mouth, where some can infect the gums and underlying bone that support the teeth. Gingivitis, an infection that sometimes renders the gums tender and susceptible to bleeding when they are irritated, is generally the first stage of periodontitis, a disease that afflicts millions of Americans. Gradually, as infected gums pull away from the teeth, ever-deepening pockets form, which allow the infection to spread and eat away at the bone This causes teeth to loosen in their sockets. Recent studies show that teeth are not the only organs endangered by this oral disease. Infections in the tissues of the mouth are easily spread into the bloodstream. Even brushing, flossing, and chewing can prompt body-wide invasion when periodontal disease is advanced. Recent research is yielding some frightening links to such problems as HEART DISEASE, STROKE, DIABETES, PNEUMONIA, PREMATURE BIRTHS and LOW BIRTH WEIGHT BABIES.
All other things being equal, people with periodontal disease are one and a half to two times as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times as likely to suffer a stroke as those without this oral disease. The association with heart disease is especially strong in people under 50. Studies have indicated that chronic oral infections can foster the development of clogged arteries and blood clots. Substances produced by oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can precipitate a chain of reactions that result in a build-up of arterial deposits and the formation of several common oral bacteria that initiate formation of blood clots and disrupt cardiac function.
It has long been known that diabetes predisposes people to bacterial infections, including infections of oral tissues. But recent studies strongly indicate that periodontitis can worsen diabetes. Diabetic patients with severe periodontitis have greater difficulty maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Treatment of periodontitis often results in a reduced need for insulin. Experts now urge that periodontal inflammation be treated and eliminated in all people with diabetes, especially since this treatment may reduce the risk of injury to the retinal and arteries, a common consequence of diabetes.
Bacterial pneumonia results when bacteria that live in the mouth and throat are inhaled into the lungs where immune defenses fail to wipe them out. Several agents that cause pneumonia can thrive in infected oral tissues of people with periodontal disease. Other respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, may be worsened by oral infections when the invading bacteria are inhaled.
One study found that mothers of prematurely born underweight babies were seven times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease as mothers of babies of normal weight at birth. All mothers in the study were not at risk of having a premature baby; although oral infections can induce premature labor.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
Of course, prevention is always the best bet. Prevention means establishing a routine of daily brushing and flossing and professional periodontal cleaning every 3 to 6 months, dependent on your individual periodontal health and risk. Keep in mind that early stages of periodontal disease often produce no symptoms.
It is our belief that the prevention of gum disease is an important step in maintaining overall health, as well as the function and beautiful appearance of a healthy smile.