PART 1 – Oral Wellness 101 – The Mouth-Body Connection

Do you think a physician who suspected heart disease or diabetes would refer the patient to a gum specialist? That is definitely not the current “standard of care”. Well. Based on research, that might change!

Research is now showing strong links between mouth health and body health.  In one recent study, people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition.

The connection between your gums and your health is inflammation. Inflammation is a normal reaction your body has to infection or injury. So if you have gum disease, your gums may become inflamed and bleed.

Three Conditions Affected By Your Oral health

The working relationship between diabetes and periodontitis may be the strongest of all the connections between the mouth and body. Inflammation that starts in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar.

Diabetes

Diabetes and periodontal disease go hand in hand. Inflammation of the gums is known to negatively impact the body’s ability to process and use insulin. In this particular case, the conditions will exacerbate each other — diabetes causes the body to lack ability to fight infection, including gum infections, while inflammation inhibits the ability to regulate sugar.

Heart Disease.

Up to 91% of patients with heart disease suffer from periodontal disease, compared to 66% of people with no heart disease.  — a high enough correlation to take precautionary measures. While the cause still isn’t clear, there is some speculation that having periodontitis raises the risk for developing heart disease.

Osteoporosis

It’s a natural warning sign that both osteoporosis and periodontal diseases are forms of bone loss. Osteoporosis tends to impact more women, while men have a higher incidence of gum disease. However, some researchers today are testing out the theory that gum disease inflammation may trigger bone loss in other areas of the body, besides the jaw.

Sources

  • Bensley L, VanEenwyk J, Ossiander EM. Associations of self-reported periodontal disease with metabolic syndrome and number of self-reported chronic conditions. Prev Chronic Disease 2011;8(3):A50. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2011/may/10_0087.htm.
  • Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine: “Periodontitis: A risk for delivery of premature labor and low-birth-weight infants.”
  • Stroke: “Periodontal Disease as a Risk Factor for Ischemic Stroke.”
  • American Dental Association: “Bleeding Gums.”
  • American Diabetes Association: “Diabetes and Oral Health Problems.”
  • Cleveland Clinic: “Can Your Mouth and Gum Disease Really Cause Heart Problems?” “5 Things to Do Daily to Keep Your Heart Healthy.”
  • Harvard Health Publications: “Treating gum disease may lessen the burden of heart disease, diabetes, other conditions.”

NOW READ PART 2 – titled “Oral Wellness 101″