Is there a connection between oral health and other health conditions?

The short answer is yes!

And here is the long answer…..

Gum disease affects at least 80% of American adults.  Gum disease has many factors that affect it.  These include poor oral care and other systemic issues can predispose someone to gum disease.  Poor oral health can contribute to systemic conditions and vice versa!.

Taking it to heart…

Gum disease is linked to blood vessel disease, heart attacks and strokes.  In a 2010 study, it was found that controlling periodontal disease has a significant impact on reducing Acute Myocardial Infarctions(AMI) or heart attack by 18-24%.  Some studies have found the same bacterial plaques in the blood vessels of the heart as found clinging to the teeth. This shows that the bacteria in the mouth does enter the blood stream and travels throughout the body.  In fact, oral bacterial are being found in brain tissue, joints and many other parts of your body.

Breathing easy!

The heart isn’t the only organ affected by gum disease.  A study done in 2011, found there is a link between gum disease and chronic respiratory condition, such as, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD) which includes, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and in some cases, asthma.  Also bad bites and poor oral-facial development can increase the risk for sleep apnea, which is becoming more common and is linked to other systemic issues

It’s all in your head.

Your mind can also be affected.  A study in 2011 tested more than 4200 individuals and found that those with fewer of their own teeth were at an increased risk of experiencing memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies show that a bad dental bite can contribute to migraines.

Other conditions…

There is also emerging information via several new studies that gum disease is associated with increased risk for diabetes complications and may be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.  Also if you have diabetes and bleeding gums, your risk of premature death increases by 400-700 percent.

There are also studies shown that gum disease increases the risk for head & neck cancer, and pancreatic and kidney cancer.  Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can severely affect oral health.  This makes oral health care even more important.

Due to the increasing information about the relationships between oral health and systemic health, insurance companies are now providing additional cleanings to people with certain conditions.  These include…

  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • endocarditis
  • pregnancy
  • AIDS
  • organ transplant
  • chemo therapy

You can contact your insurance company to see if you qualify for additional cleanings.  If you do have any of these conditions, it is important to see your dentist regularly.