If you thought that the only risks from not taking the health of your teeth seriously enough were decay and gum disease (which in themselves are bad enough) then think again. The last decade or so has shown an increased focus on identifying connections between the health of your mouth and the rest of your body – and not in the way that you might expect. Research by the American Dental Foundation found that people who have serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have another chronic condition than those without.
Perhaps one of the most notable links between the mouth and the rest of the body is that between periodontitis and diabetes. Periodontitis essentially covers a number of situations in which there is inflammation around the teeth and it has now been shown that where there is inflammation that starts in the mouth, this then affects the ability of the rest of the body to control blood sugar. People who have diabetes usually have difficulties with sugar because they either don’t have enough insulin, or it doesn’t work properly – insulin is the hormone that our bodies use to convert sugar into energy. A high, or uncontrolled, blood sugar will create conditions for infection to develop – such as gum infections. The positive in this situation is that, as the two are linked, when you deal with one usually the other will follow suit.
Another very serious health condition that seems to be overwhelmingly linked with gum disease is heart disease – research has suggested that up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have gum disease, compared to 66% without cardiovascular problems. One logical conclusion for this link is that both heart disease and gum disease have a number of the same risk factors – for example, being overweight, smoking and living an unhealthy lifestyle. However, there is also evidence that one contributes to the other, with the inflammation in the mouth thought to cause inflammation in the blood vessels, restricting blood flow and generally raising blood pressure. Doctors also warn that fatty plaque could become detached from teeth and make its way to the heart where it could cause a stroke.
Clearly, there are numerous reasons to start taking care of your teeth if you don’t already. If you are looking for information, consultation or treatment then find your local Smile Pad and we’d be happy to help.