Gum Disease and Your Health; The Link

Gum Disease and Your Health; The Link
Posted on 10/11/2016

Preventive Dental Maintenance Continued

As I stated in my previous blog on Preventive Dental Maintenance, one aspect of achieving our Mission Statement of “Helping you keep your teeth for a longer lifetime” means achieving and maintaining gum health.  Gum health allows you to “keep your teeth” and also appears to help you have a “longer lifetime”.

Gum Disease and its link to major diseases

We have known for decades that periodontal disease (gum disease) can result in loss of teeth, but well before losing teeth, a number of unpleasant symptoms can develop.  Those can include:

·         Bad breath that won’t go away

·         Red or swollen gums that can hurt and just don’t look very nice

·         Tender or bleeding gums

·         Painful chewing due to sore gums and lose teeth

·         Loose teeth

·         Sensitive teeth

·         Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

(What is a healthy mouth?)

Nearly half of all Americans age 30 and older have some form of gum disease; in people 65 and older, 70 percent have some degree of periodontal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gum disease that affects the soft tissues (gums) is reversible.  Gum disease that has progressed to the bone and ligaments is not reversible, but is controllable.  Prevention is the best way to go.  Most gum disease can be prevented by great home care and regular professional evaluations and maintenance.  If you have some form of gum disease, dental treatments, both non-surgical and surgical, can be prescribed to a return you to a healthy and maintainable state (ceasing or slowing the progression of the gum disease).

(What is the best way to keep my mouth clean?)

There are now, what appear to be links between gum disease and other diseases.  While not definitive, the links between gum disease and diabetes, at-risk pregnancy, heart disease and stroke have been so consistent that some insurers offer extra preventive periodontal care at little or no cost to people with those conditions.

Treating periodontitis in such patients resulted in fewer hospitalizations and lower medical costs than those who did not receive follow-up periodontal care, according to an analysis of dental insurance claims published in 2014 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For example, over the study period, the average annual cost of medical care for Type 2 diabetics with untreated periodontal disease was $7,056; for diabetics with treated periodontal disease, the average was $4,216 — a 40 percent savings, with 40 percent fewer hospital admissions. Cerebral vascular disease patients whose gum disease was treated saw a 41 percent cost savings and 21 percent fewer hospital admissions. For coronary artery disease, the cost savings was 11 percent, with nearly 30 percent fewer hospital stays. The study also included rheumatoid arthritis patients, for whom no gum disease treatment effects were found.

The link to inflammation 

(How does gum disease and inflammation affect my health?)

The chronic inflammation of gum disease may spur inflammation elsewhere in the body. Gum-disease bacteria may travel to the liver and raise levels of C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation involved in many conditions, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Most that develop Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, with extra weight overworking the pancreas and causing inflammation. Gum disease seems to contribute to that inflammation.

“There is mounting evidence that there is a bidirectional link between diabetes and gum disease,” said Thomas Van Dyke, research team leader at the Forsyth Institute. (Based in Cambridge, Mass, the institute promotes oral health.) That two-directional relationship means that diabetics with gum disease have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar and that gum disease is two to three times as prevalent in diabetics as in the general population, he said. Studies show that when diabetics get their gum disease under control, they have much more success managing their blood sugar levels.

The magnitude of gum disease is just sinking in, Offenbacher said. People can walk around with a huge infection in their mouth, but because it doesn’t hurt, it’s underappreciated even though the infection goes down into the bone. If you had an infection in your arm that went down to the bone, he said, you wouldn’t think twice about needing to get it treated.

As research continues, perhaps we’ll all be thinking twice about our gums.

So, we await more information on the link between gum disease and other diseases, but the message is clear, don’t neglect your dental health.  Who wants to suffer with bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, bad breath, etc?  Let us help you achieve and maintain your dental health.  Call us at Anthony Markiewicz, DDS, Ltd to schedule an appointment at 847.566.2811.  We are here to “Help you keep your teeth for a longer lifetime.”

I will continue the blog series on Preventive Dental Maintenance next month.