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Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

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

According to published statistics, more than 60 million Americans exhibit signs of periodontal (gum) disease, a chronic bacterial infection that breaks down gum tissue and even the bone that anchors your teeth. When gum disease advances, enzymes excreted by the bacteria slowly destroy your gum tissue. Soon, your gum tissues are breached and bacteria are free to enter your body’s circulatory system. These circulating bacteria generate inflammation throughout the body. For seniors, children and anyone with a weakened immune system, this negative factor could have a cumulative effect on their pre-existing medical conditions.

Research has also shown treatment for numerous health conditions including heart failure, pulmonary disease such as emphysema or COPD, diabetes, hip replacement, kidney failure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and, finally, pregnancy might be obstructed by bacteria from periodontal disease.

The Red Flags of Gum Disease:

Alexandria Old Town Dental Gum Disease Brad• Bleeding gums after brushing your teeth
• Gums bleeding after flossing your teeth
• Painful, shiny red or swollen gum tissue
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth
• Gums receding around the teeth
• Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
• Pus around the base of the teeth
• Discomfort when chewing or biting
• Recent change in your bite
• Spaces that have appeared between teeth
• Food getting lodged up in your gums

Doctors Are Now Advising You To Make a Dental Hygiene Appointment To Prevent Heart Disease

Alexandria Old Town Dental Periodontal Illustration 4When you visit Alexandria Old Town Dental’ hygienists to treat your gum disease, you are aggressively lowering your odds of developing heart disease. 

Understand that the way that gum disease affects your circulatory system is that periodontal disease triggers a consecutive stairway of chemical events that foment inflammation, or swelling, in the body’s vital systems. Should the heart and arteries become swollen, it can cause blood clots, putting you at danger for heart attack or stroke. Add to that, periodontal bacteria may also cling to the lining inside the heart, thereby causing infective endocarditis.

Over the last ten years, several studies have concluded that there is a proven connection between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One consequence of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. After the gums have been diseased long-term, your teeth usually start falling out.

Researchers in Finland looked at the correlation 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 chronic periodontal disease also had a higher incidence of heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease raises the danger of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the occurrence of stroke by a factor of 10.

The Connection Between Gum Disease And Pneumonia

According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with chronic periodontal disease are most at risk for pneumonia. So, taking action now to address your periodontal disease is priority #1 for lowering your odds of spending a week in the hospital with pneumonia.

Diabetes Encouraged By Periodontal Disease

Even though diabetics are more likely to have gum disease, we couldn’t prove which one was a result of the other. Two decades ago, scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health followed about 9,000 individuals who were not diabetics. At the end, over 800 of the 9,000 tested positive for diabetes. What they discovered was those with serious gum disease had twice the odds of becoming a diabetic in the next twenty years, even when age, smoking, obesity and diet were figured in to the equation.

According to Dr. Demmer, associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s School of Public Health, “After twenty years, we can come to the conclusion that individuals who had oral infections (gum disease had a significantly elevated chance of getting Type 2 diabetes within 20 years if compared to people who did not start out with periodontal disease.”

What This All Means To Dentists

Previously, dentists focused on saving your teeth through regular dental care. From now on, there is a broader dimension to dental care. If you have an inflammatory condition like periodontal disease, you’re in danger of developing 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 goal, we might just be saving your life as well.

Dr. Longman concludes, “It’s no longer good enough to just be aware of suspicious spots in the gum tissue. Given this new research, attacking gum disease aggressively will become a top priority for maintaining, and improving our patients’ overall health and their enjoyment of life. In fact, it will mean that if our patients’ teeth and gums are not healthy, we can assume that they are not healthy overall.”

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