Healthy Smiles for Healthy Bodies and Minds
Oral Systemic Health, the connection between oral health and overall health, has quickly become a movement in the dental and medical fields recently. In the past, the two fields didn’t cross paths often. However, as more and more research is proving that the mouth is the gateway to the body in more ways than just digestion, both dental and medical professionals are sounding alarms in regards to poor oral health, especially periodontal disease, and the impact on overall health.
What is periodontal disease? In layman’s terms, it is a disease of the mouth where bacteria has been allowed to grow and is indicated by swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath, tooth loss, and poor oral hygiene. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease is “an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria. In the more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis, the gums pull away from the tooth and supporting gum tissues are destroyed. Bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or eventually fall out.”
Through research, periodontal disease has been shown to be associated with several other diseases. It was thought that bacteria in the mouth was the factor linked to other healthcare issues, however, more recent research is finding that inflammation may be responsible. Below are a few of the diseases that have been found to be impacted by periodontal disease:
- Diabetes. Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Some research has suggested that those with uncontrolled blood sugar are especially at risk and that if periodontal disease is present, it could actually make it more difficult to get it under control.
- Heart Disease and Stroke. While the cause and effect has not been fully proven, several studies have indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Periodontal disease may also exacerbate existing heart conditions, requiring antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your cardiologist and dentist can work together to determine the need for antibiotics based on your individual condition.
- Cancer. In cancer studies, researchers found that patients with periodontal disease were more likely to develop upper GI cancers, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancers. Periodontal disease and tooth loss has been linked to an increased risk for oral and esophageal cancer.
- Other links such as respiratory disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy complications, sleep apnea, and TMJ (jaw joint) disorders have been indicated in research to be affected by periodontal disease as well.
Worried that this could be you? The connection between your mouth and the rest of your body point out the importance of taking steps sooner than later. It isn’t too late to seek the dental care needed to get your oral health on the right track. The cost of treating gum disease is based on the difficulty and time required for each procedure involved, but ultimately the short term cost versus long term health complications are worth it in improving your overall health.
At Southbridge Dentistry, we will perform a comprehensive exam, including a hard and soft tissue evaluation, to determine the right treatment for you. Not only will we assist you in finding the right treatment in our office, we will help you create new oral hygiene habits at home to maintain your improved level of oral health.
Call us at (303) 798-4967 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you create a healthier gateway to your body.