Oral Health and Systemic Health

  1. Heart/Cardio Vascular Problem
  2. Diabetes
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Kidney Problems
  5. Lung / Respiratory Problems

Dispelling Myths about Gum Disease: The Truth behind Healthy Teeth and Gums

The discrepancy between the prevalence of gum disease and the low levels of treatment can likely be blamed on a lack of understanding of the effect periodontal disease can have on overall health.

CHICAGO—February 18, 2010—The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) estimates that approximately three out of four Americans suffer from some form of gum disease – from mild cases of gingivitis, to the more severe form known as periodontitis. However, despite this prevalence, approximately only three percent seek treatment for their gum disease. With increasingly more research indicating that gum disease may be linked to several other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer, maintaining healthy teeth and gums has become more important that ever.

“Patients do not always seek the periodontal care they require because they are not aware of the long-term and potentially dangerous implications of untreated gum disease,”

Unfortunately, there are a variety of myths surrounding periodontal disease and its repercussions. In order to help distinguish between fact and fallacy regarding periodontal disease, the AAP has identified and addressed below some common misconceptions about oral health :

Bleeding gums are not that big of a deal.

Red, swollen and bleeding gums are an important sign of periodontal disease. If you notice bleeding while brushing or flossing, or when eating certain foods, you should schedule a visit with your dental professional to be evaluated for periodontal disease. Studies have shown that in addition to tooth loss, gum disease may contribute to the progression of other diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, so it is important that you begin treating periodontal disease as soon as possible.

You don’t need to floss every day.

Routine oral care, which includes brushing after every meal and before bedtime, and flossing at least once a day, is the best way to prevent gum disease. However, a recent survey estimates that only 13.5 percent of Americans floss each day. It is vital that you keep up with your daily oral care, and see a dental professional for a thorough check-up twice a year. If gum disease is diagnosed, a consultation with a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating periodontal disease, may be beneficial.

A visit to the periodontist will be scary.

Periodontists are gum disease experts. They have received three or more years of specialized training following dental school centered on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. Periodontists are equipped with the latest treatments and technologies, using innovative tools such as digital radiography, ultrasound technology, biomarker measurement and laser therapy to help make your visit more comfortable.

A tooth lost to gum disease is a tooth lost forever.

Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, in addition to treating gum disease, periodontists are also experts in placing dental implants – a convenient and comfortable way to permanently replace missing teeth. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth. Studies have shown that dental implants have a 98 percent success rate, and with proper care, allow you to speak, eat and smile with confidence. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology found that over 70 percent of respondents reported being “pleased” or “extremely satisfied” with the results of their dental implants.

Poor oral hygiene is the only way to develop gum disease.

Forgoing good oral hygiene can certainly contribute to the progression of gum disease, but there are a variety of other factors that can also impact your risk. For instance, tobacco use has been shown to greatly increase your chance of developing gum disease. Stress, poor diet, and even genetics, can also play a role in the health of your gums.

Go Green for Healthy Teeth and Gums

A recent study suggests that antioxidants in green tea may help reduce periodontal disease.

CHICAGO—March 5, 2009—With origins dating back over 4,000 years, green tea has long been a popular beverage in Asian culture, and is increasingly gaining popularity in the United States. And while ancient Chinese and Japanese medicine believed green tea consumption could cure disease and heal wounds, recent scientific studies are beginning to establish the potential health benefits of drinking green tea, especially in weight loss, heart health, and cancer prevention. A study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology, the official publication of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), uncovered yet another benefit of green tea consumption. Researchers found that routine intake of green tea may also help promote healthy teeth and gums. The study analyzed the periodontal health of 940 men, and found that those who regularly drank green tea had superior periodontal health than subjects that consumed less green tea.

Gum Disease and Heart Problems

Levels of Bacteria in Plaque Beneath the Gum Line May Increase Risk for Heart Attacks !

Researchers Warn: Don’t Let Your Mouth Pollute Your Clean Heart CHICAGO – May 19, 2005 – Researchers have found evidence that the amount of bacteria in subgingival plaque, the deep plaques in periodontal pockets and around the teeth, may contribute to an individual’s risk of a heart attack, according to two studies appearing in the Journal of Periodontology. These studies further researchers’ understanding that periodontal bacteria may increase the risk for heart disease.

Gum Disease and Diabetes

Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

A study published in Journal of Periodontology found that poorly controlled type 2 diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than well-controlled diabetics are.
Research has emerged that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. Thus, diabetics who have periodontal disease should be treated to eliminate the periodontal infection.

This recommendation is supported by a study reported in the Journal of Periodontology in 1997 involving 113 Pima Indians with both diabetes and periodontal disease. The study found that when their periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved.

Gum Disease and Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, you know how important it is to take special care of your body. However, you should also know that pregnancy is a time to take extra special care of your teeth and gums. That’s because hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can increase your chances of developing gum disease. So while you are pregnant, make sure you practice good hygiene which means brushing and flossing everyday. By combining this routine with a healthy, balanced diet and regular dental visits, you will not only help avoid dental problems of your own, you will also contribute to the healthy development of your baby.

  1. How does pregnancy affect my teeth and gums?Pregnancy causes hormonal fluctuations that increase your risk for gum disease. The changing hormone levels in your body can make your gums more sensitive to harmful plaque – the colorless, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Furthermore, if you already have signs of gum disease, being pregnant may make it worse. This is why its vital to pay more careful attention to your daily brushing and flossing routine to keep plaque under control.
  2. Am I also at a greater risk for tooth decay?Yes. Sugary food cravings and morning sickness may make you more vulnerable to developing cavities.
  3. How should you prepare your child for his Paediatric dental visit?It is very important that you do not project dental treatment as a punishment. You can encourage the child about the benefits such as attractive teeth with no black spots (decay). Also, avoid saying “it will not hurt”, project your dentist as a person who will help keep his teeth healthy and white in a friendly environment.
  4. How can I avoid tooth decay and gum disease?Simple: get into the habit of cleaning your teeth properly everyday and visiting your dentist regularly.Brushing thoroughly at least twice a day preferably in the morning and before bed. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or a good quality power toothbrush – look for modern designs that are safe and gentle to use. Many incorporate advanced technology that allows them to remove plaque more effectively than ordinary manual toothbrushes.Take your time. You should spend at least two minutes brushing to remove the plaque that is constantly forming on your teeth.Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is proven to help prevent cavities.Clean between teeth daily. Use floss or other interdental cleaners to remove plaque from areas that your toothbrush can’t reach. Did you know, if you don’t floss, you’re leaving up to 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched and unclean?
  5. Should I tell my dentist that I’m pregnant?As soon as you believe that you are pregnant, tell your dentist because it may not be safe to have x-rays or other treatments. Tell your dentist what medicines you are taking and if your physician has given you any specific medical advice, as it may affect the treatment given.
  6. What should I know about my diet?Your body is the sole source of nourishment for your unborn child. Check with your physician, as he or she is the best source for detailed information on what to eat while you are pregnant. In general, however, you should try to eat more foods that are rich in calcium – these are especially good for developing teeth and bones.

Gum Disease and Kidney Problems

Study published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that the effects of untreated periodontal disease may be linked to chronic kidney disease.

CHICAGO—October 14, 2008—According to the National Kidney Foundation, one out of nine Americans suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD), and millions more are at risk. A debilitating disease, CKD can affect blood pressure and bone health, and can eventually lead to heart disease or kidney failure. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), the official publication of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), suggests that edentulous, or toothless, adults may be more likely to have CKD than dentate adults. In the study, conducted at Case Western Reserve University, edentulism was found to be significantly associated with CKD, indicating that oral care may play a role in reducing the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. population. A study examined the kidney function and periodontal health indicators, including dentate status, of 4,053 U.S. adults 40 years of age and older. After adjusting for recognized risk factors of CKD such as age, race/ethnicity and smoking status, the results revealed that participants who lost all their teeth were more likely to have CKD than patients who had maintained their natural dentition.

“The rationale for examining edentulous adults in this study is to observe the long-term effects of periodontal disease on the presence of chronic kidney disease,” states study author Monica Fisher, PhD, DDS, MPH. “Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults; therefore edentulism is considered to be a marker of past periodontal disease in the study’s participants.”

While additional research is needed to fully understand why tooth loss is associated with higher prevalence of CKD, the destructive nature of chronic inflammation may play a role. Both periodontal disease and chronic kidney disease are considered inflammatory conditions, and previous research has suggested that inflammation may be the common link between these diseases. Since untreated periodontal disease can ultimately lead to tooth loss, edentulous patients may have been exposed to chronic oral inflammation

According to David Cochran DDS, President of the American Academy of Periodontology and Professor and Chair of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, treating periodontal disease can do a lot more than save your natural teeth. “Researchers have long known that gum disease is related to other adverse health conditions, and now we can consider chronic kidney disease to be one of them. It is exciting to think that by controlling periodontal disease and therefore helping to preserve natural dentition, the incidence and progression of CKD may be reduced.”

Gum Disease and Respiratory Diseases

Bacteria in your mouth can be aspirated into the lungs to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with gum disease.

Bacterial respiratory infections are thought to be acquired through aspiration (inhaling) of fine droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can breed and multiply within the lungs to cause damage. Recent research suggests that bacteria found in the throat, as well as bacteria found in the mouth, can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract. This can cause infections or worsen existing lung conditions. People with respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, typically suffer from reduced protective systems, making it difficult to eliminate bacteria from the lungs.

Scientists have found that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lung to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease. This discovery leads researchers to believe that these respiratory bacteria can travel from the oral cavity into the lungs to cause infection.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) cause persistent obstruction of the airways. The main cause of this disease is thought to be long-term smoking. Chemicals from smoke or air pollution irritate the airways to cause obstruction. Further damage to the tissue and working function of the lungs can be prevented, but already damaged tissue cannot be restored – untreated or undetected COPD can result in irreversible damage. Scientists believe that through the aspiration process, bacteria can cause frequent bouts of infection in patients with COPD. Studies are now in progress to learn to what extent oral hygiene and periodontal disease may be associated with more frequents bouts of respiratory disease in COPD patients.

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