Your Mouth and Your Health
After clearing up oral infections such as tooth abscesses and gum diseases, we often have patients tell us they feel remarkably better overall. Some patients feel weak and achey for years and have no idea that their gum disease and infected teeth are the cause. We have known for decades that there is a strong cause and effect relationship between oral diseases and a number of systemic diseases. A person cannot have good overall health when they have poor oral health.
Bacteria & Inflammation are the Problem
Research has shown that the bacteria and inflammation caused by abscessed teeth and gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is associated with several serious diseases. Just one abscessed tooth or a mild case of gum disease can release large amounts of bacterial toxins and inflammatory mediators into the blood stream allowing them to reach all areas of the body.
Exposure of your body to bacterial toxins and inflammatory mediators over a period of time contributes to the hardening of arteries which leads to a condition known as Arteriosclerosis. As the arteries harden, patients develop complications such as high blood pressure, blocked heart arteries, kidney disease, strokes, E.D. and other conditions associated with decreased blood flow to vital organs.
Constant bombardment of our bodies with bacteria and inflammatory mediators puts a great strain on the body’s immune system. Many patients feel physically sick, not knowing that it is their mouth that is dragging them down.
There are a number of conditions that are linked to chronic tooth infections and gum diseases. These include the following:
Arthritis and Joint Disease
It is well accepted that mouth bacteria and inflammatory mediators can cause the loss of joint implants, such as hip and knee implants. Gum disease inflammatory mediators are also known to circulate into joints where they trigger Arthritis and lead to continued joint damage in patients that already have Arthritis.
It is very important to keep your mouth free of infection if you want to have healthy joints.
Research has shown that the bacteria that grows in the mouth can be aspirated into the lungs causing lung abscesses and pneumonia, especially in people with gum disease. There have been numerous reports published of bacteria cultured from lung abscesses. In many instances the bacteria found in the lung abscess matched the bacteria found within the infected gums of the patient. It seems that the patients actually inhale the bacteria from their infected mouths. This is especially important information for those that are bed ridden or in nursing homes. It has been shown that rinsing with Chlorhexidine Gluconate (2%) significantly reduces the development of respiratory infections in non-ambulatory patients.
Diabetic patients are more likely to develop gum disease than people without diabetes, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. Gum disease and other oral infections have been shown to increase blood sugar and increase diabetic complications. In fact, gum disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Even mild cases of gum disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes and mouth infections at increased risk for the development and worsening of diabetic complications.
It seems now days that everything causes cancer, but don’t be fooled, not all things are bad. However, researchers have found that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers. Although the mechanisms have not yet been determined, the data is clear. If you have gum disease, you are more likely to develop cancer. Our immune system is very important in eliminating and protecting our bodies from cancer. We know that gum disease has a detrimental effect on the human immune system over time. It is possible that the weakening of the immune system by chronic gum disease may leave a person more susceptible to the development of cancer. Effective diagnosis and control of gum disease can help decrease a person’s risk for cancer.
Missing Teeth Affects Your Health
Although missing teeth (Edentulism) is not considered a “disease”, it is a condition that contributes to a series of medical problems ranging from malnutrition to obesity, and related complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure and premature aging. In fact, a person can be overweight and still be malnourished because they are forced to eat soft, overcooked, over salted and nutritionally depleted foods. Any condition that interferes with normal chewing, such as ill fitting partials or dentures, can cause significant nutritional deficiencies. There have been numerous studies that demonstrate how missing teeth and poor fitting dentures cause declining health. Improvements in chewing and nutrition can help patients achieve optimal health. There are a variety of options available that can significantly improve chewing for patients that are having difficulties eating healthy foods.