We occasionally see patients who have been advised by their surgeons to have their gum health checked prior to surgery. This proactive measure is to reduce risk factors that could complicate surgical outcome. But, what does your smile have to do with a hip joint replacement? Or, any surgery for that matter?
Although the connection between healthy gums and surgery elsewhere in the body seem unrelated, research has shown otherwise. For decades, numerous studies have shown correlations between the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease and health problems elsewhere in the body, some deadly.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection that destroys gum tissues and the structures that support teeth. As gum tissues are attacked and weakened, the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased tissues.
This infectious bacteria has been found to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Systemic inflammation is the now-known epicenter of a number of major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, impotency and more.
Studies have also shown that pregnant women with periodontal disease have a greater risk of having pre-term and low birth weight babies. These indications have been found in amniotic fluid and in fetal cord blood samples of infants.
The latest research reveals that the bacteria of periodontal disease may contribute to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. For years, researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have conducted a cancer prevention and screening study.
By studying oral samples, notably higher levels of two types of oral bacteria were measured in study participants with pancreatic cancer. One oral bacteria was found to create a 50% increased risk for pancreatic cancer and the second oral bacteria led to a 59% greater likelihood.
For decades, it was perceived that RA (rheumatoid arthritis) patients had such a high risk of gum disease due to poor oral hygiene because of dexterity problems with using a toothbrush. However, more recent studies now show that gum disease is actually a risk factor for arthritis.
While genetic factors certainly contribute to greater RA susceptibility, the true source has been determined to be inflammatory reactions. This inflammation is triggered primarily by bacterial infections, with oral bacteria being a significant contributor to inflammatory arthritis.
Based on years of studies and findings, the correlation between gum disease bacteria and our whole-health is finally coming to light. As research continues to pinpoint the origins of how the infectious bacteria of gum disease set in motion pancreatic cancer’s onset, new screening methods can hopefully be developed.
In the meantime, there is no debate that having and keeping good oral health is important. Fortunately, this is easy and takes just minutes a day. Follow a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home by brushing twice a day (two minutes each time) and floss daily. Have dental cleanings every six months and follow your dental hygienist’s recommendations to keep oral bacteria at minimal levels between visits.
If you have symptoms of gum disease, please be seen promptly. These include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, frequent bad breath, swollen and tender gums and gums that deepen in color from a healthy pink. Remember, gum disease will only worsen without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Begin with a free consultation by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.