Gum Disease Could Lead To Other Health Problems
If you know someone who lives by the philosophy, “Caveman didn’t brush his teeth, so why should I?” they might just want to rethink their approach to oral hygiene in light of some recent research.
A study supported by the National Institutes of Health in the journal “Circulation” reported that adults who have higher proportions of four periodontal-disease-causing bacteria inhabiting their mouths also tend to have thicker carotid arteries, a strong predictor of stroke and heart attack.
But wait, there’s more.
Studies show that periodontal disease may be a contributing factor to the onset or worsening of…
Alzheimer’s Disease: A recent study published in the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease” has linked gum disease with Alzheimer’s through the presence of certain periodontal bacteria in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.
Pneumonia: A 2011 Yale University report suggested that “changes in oral bacteria play a role in the risk for developing pneumonia.”
Heart Disease: A study supported by the National Institutes of Health in the journal “Circulation” reported that adults who have higher periodontal-disease-causing bacteria inhabiting their mouths also tend to have thicker carotid arteries, a strong predictor of stroke and heart attack.
Can any of these studies absolutely and positively say that gum disease causes heart, lung or brain diseases? The answer, so far, has mostly been no.
But people seem to be at higher risk for heart problems the greater their periodontal disease. And it is for that reason that many cardiologists routinely check their patients’ teeth and gums.
Cardiologists recognize that if a patient has an artificial heart valve, periodontal disease will put them at very high risk of infection. The artificial valve itself is not normal tissue and bacteria is more likely to settle on that and cause infection. The valve infection occurs because the periodontal disease allows access of the bacteria surrounding their patients’ teeth into the bloodstream. If a person has even a mildly abnormal heart valve, bacteria can settle on the heart valve and destroy it.
It is imperative that patients with heart disease keep a healthy mouth and here’s why:
There are nearly a thousand varieties of mouth bacteria. In periodontal disease, the gum pocket is an ulcerated lesion resulting from the breakdown of normal tissue defenses. This process, in turn, allows bacteria and its products to exit directly into the bloodstream. Periodontal disease can make existing systemic inflammatory processes worse and can stimulate a systemic inflammatory process which in turn can trigger a heart attack.
That’s why it’s important to treat gum disease to heal the gum pocket lesion and remove the harmful bacteria. We can’t yet say gum disease causes diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease or pneumonia, but it seems the research done so far indicates that periodontal disease may well be a contributing factor to the onset or worsening of those diseases.
It is in everyone’s best interest to take care of their gums before things get to the high-risk stage. Handsome teeth and gums are not only social assets, but they are also important to our general body health.
- Posted in Periodontist
- October 24th 2013