What IS the Oral Systemic Connection?
Did you know that the health of your mouth can affect the health of the rest of your body? It can! Recent scientific research suggests a very strong correlation between chronic oral infections from periodontal (gum) disease and systemic (overall) health. Research at major universities and medical centers strongly supports an oral systemic connection.
According to published statistics, more than 60 million Americans show signs of periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, bacterial enzymes break down the gum tissue, allowing bacteria to enter the circulatory system. These circulating bacteria initiate a systemic inflammatory response. To “at risk” patients, this added burden could have a complicating effect on their pre-existing medical conditions. Treatment for numerous medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, orthopedic replacement, kidney disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy may be complicated by bacteria from the mouth.
New research shows a strong correlation between oral bacteria found in periodontal (gum) disease and many heart-related problems. Scientific studies suggest that an inflammatory response to oral bacteria contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. This may cause cardiovascular disease; heart attacks or strokes. Bacteria originating from the mouth may also adhere to the inner lining, and may cause infective endocarditis.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, people with chronic periodontal disease (10% of the general population and 50% of all seniors) are most affected by pneumonia. Therefore, improving the state of poor oral health may reduce the number of pneumonia cases and decrease patient mortality.
Almost 1/3 of all people with diabetes have severe periodontal disease. Current evidence shows that oral bacteria found in untreated chronic periodontal disease can disrupt diabetic control, which may cause many serious health complications. Periodontal disease may be considered a complication of diabetes.
Joint prosthesis infections that originate from oral bacteria may lead to failure of the prosthesis, resulting in the need for additional surgery. Dental evaluations and clearance prior to replacement surgery may minimize the potential risk of infection due to bacteria originating from the mouth. Cancer Recent evidence implicates periodontal disease in certain types of cancer. The elimination of all dental disease prior to cancer therapy, most critically for head and neck cancer, may minimize or prevent the potential complicating effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It is important to have a periodontal evaluation before any cancer treatment.
Case-controlled studies show the risk of pre-term birth was 3 to 8 times greater for mothers with periodontal disease. Preterm babies have more significant and numerous health problems.
Periodontal Disease Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a progressive inflammatory condition which affects the tissues and bone supporting the teeth. There are well known warning signs of periodontal disease. However, periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms. Gingival inflammation and bone destruction are often painless, and many individuals experience little or no discomfort in the early stages of periodontal disease. Often the disease has progressed significantly before an individual realizes there is a problem or seeks treatment. Periodontal disease can exist as mild, moderate, or severe. As the severity of periodontitis increases, so does its suspected contribution to the conditions mentioned above.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Sore or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Chronic bad breath
- Pus around teeth
- Pain upon chewing
- Recent bite change
- Spaces between teeth
- Food accumulation in gums
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