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Dr. Bill Busch

Dr. Tucker VanYperen

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Oral Health and Body Health: The Connection

Periodic preventive cleaning appointments including periodontal therapy will probably extend your golden years, according to recent scientific research . It may sound weird, but, the germs from gum disease can travel through your body arriving at vulnerable areas of the body like the heart, kidneys, lungs and the digestive organs. It becomes clear that you need to schedule regular visits for dental hygiene and periodontal therapy to maintain your periodontal health.

“Periodontal disease and and inattention to personal oral health can lead to premature death,” relates health and wellness author, Dr. Michael F. Roizen in his best-selling book, Real Age: Are You As Young As You Can Be? Why? Because gum disease has been shown to be linked to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, digestive problems, osteoporosis, and immune disorders. It seems weird when you think about it, however, adding up the entire infected area of infection and decay in the mouth and gums, you end up with an infected area about two inches in diameter. It’s just invisible because it’s under the gums. If you looked in the mirror tomorrow and saw that big sore on your forehead, you be making a medical appointment that day.

In addition to gum disease’s negative effect on your body, it can also hinder any treatment regimen you are receiving for a medical condition.

North Kansas City Dental Gum Disease BradThe Signposts of Periodontal Disease:

• Bleeding gums after brushing
• Gums bleeding after flossing
• Aching, inflamed or puffy gums
• Loose and/or wobbly teeth
• Tooth roots becoming exposed
• Untreatable bad breath (halitosis)
• Pus or white film around the base of the teeth
• Sharp pain when you chew or bite on something
• Noticeable changes in your bite
• New spaces between your teeth
• Food getting lodged up in your gums

North Kansas City Dental Periodontal Illustration 4

Type II Diabetes Encouraged By Periodontal Disease

For a long time it was known that those with Type II diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. Research is now indicating that it may work both ways: people with chronic gum infections are more likely to get diabetes. Researchers recently looked at data from a big health survey and uncovered the fact that those who had ongoing periodontitis when the survey started twenty years ago had greater odds of developing Type II diabetes.
 
This study provides evidence for the conclusion that patients with ongoing periodontal disease are more in danger of developing Type II diabetes.

Finally, did you know:
• The American Diabetes Association has announced that gum disease causes diabetes.
• Adults with periodontal disease are 2 times more likely to have insulin resistance.
• When Type II diabetics also have elevated gum disease, they are seven times more likely to die.

Dentists Are Now Recommending Periodontal Therapy To Stop Heart Disease 

By having regular cleanings and periodontal therapy to treat your gum disease, you are saying, “No” to developing cardiovascular problems. 

Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen cites dental research that has revealed that people with periodontal disease have a significantly greater chance of having coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Researchers believe that bacteria shed by advanced gum disease can spread through the bloodstream and contribute to disease in the heart and other parts of the body.

Since the year, 2000, several studies have determined that there is a strong link between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease. One inevitability of unchecked periodontal disease is the loss of teeth. When the gums become very diseased, your teeth can wiggle out.

Finnish researchers decided to look for an association 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 aged 45 to 64 years. The researchers discovered that those men with a higher number of missing teeth from sustained oral infections resulting from periodontal disease also had a higher incidence of heart disease. Their conclusions? Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 25 percent. It increases the risk of having a stroke by 1000%.

The Connection Between Periodontal Disease And Pulmonary Disease

According to numerous studies, gum disease can compromise your lungs. First, bacteria attacking your gums find their way into the saliva. The bacteria hitches a ride on the water droplets in the air you draw in every time you breathe. The water droplets mixed with the bacteria may be aspirated into the lungs. There the bacteria begins to colonize into a case of pneumonia. This can be very dangerous for the elderly or people who are dealing with a low immunity level, including anyone suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

What This All Means To Dentists

Previously, dental practices committed to saving your teeth through regular dental care. In the future, there is much more to be taken into consideration. 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. In the future, as we care for your teeth, we’re not just saving your teeth, which in itself is a very good outcome, we might just be saving your life as well.

Dr. Busch and Dr. VanYperen conclude, “It is no longer good enough to just be aware of trouble spots in the gums. Given this new research, attacking gum disease aggressively will become a critical action step in 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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