There seems to be growing evidence that periodontal disease, or gum disease, has a connection to a person’s health. Diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis are three health problems that will be examined here.
Some research indicates that people with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease, and that it could be because they tend to be more susceptible to infections. If a person’s diabetes is not under control, the risk increases dramatically.
That susceptibility creates another problem, in reverse. Gum disease, in turn, could make it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Why is this?
Severe gum disease can increase blood sugar. With an increase in blood sugar, the diabetic runs the risk of putting their body through an extended time with high blood sugar, which increases the risk for further diabetic problems.
According to some research, gum disease is not simply associated with heart disease; it also increases the risk of getting it. Inflammation in the mouth caused by gum disease, it is believed, may be the reason for the connection. The inflammation is full of bacteria, which can get into the blood stream through the mouth, which can travel to several areas of the body, including the heart.
One example of this process is in the case of infective endocarditis (IE), where bacteria enters the patient’s blood stream and settles in the lining of theirs heart. However, the infection can often spread to the heart valves as well as the muscles. A patient with IE may need antibiotics if they need some sort of dental procedure.
Who would have thought that so much could happen through the simple act of brushing one’s teeth?
In fact, it has been reported in one study that a person has a high risk of developing bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) if they bleed when brushing their teeth, or have poor general dental health.
The connection between osteoporosis and gum disease, according to research, is that the bacteria contained in the gum filters into the jaw bone, causing it to weaken and eventually leads to bone loss.
While there is no conclusive research in this area, some researchers suggest it is possible for bone loss in the jaw to lead to skeletal bone loss.
Once again, conclusive research has yet to be uncovered in a lot of these areas. However, it seems clear that, with all the human body’s connections, our dental health may indeed impact our overall health, for good or bad.