At our Erie family dental practice, our team at Impression Dental wants every patient to understand the importance of enjoying quality oral health.
While we often think of our oral health as only having to do with our teeth and gums, numerous studies have shown that it’s far more complicated. Patients who deal with tooth decay and gum disease have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer.
What links our oral health and overall health remains somewhat of a mystery, but now researchers have found further proof of a cause/effect relationship.
A clear link between gum disease and the calcification of the carotid artery and heart disease has now been identified by researchers from Malmo University.
Conducted by researchers as part of the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care, the main thesis behind this study was to better understand the relationship between gum disease, cardiovascular disease, and death.
“It’s clear that people with periodontitis are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and also have an increased risk of dying,” wrote the research team.
Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, occurs when gum disease attacks the underlying bone and tissue structures that hold our teeth into position. Periodontitis is the leading cause of permanent tooth loss among adults in the U.S.
Exploring the Connection
As part of their study, researchers examined the relationship between periodontitis and heart disease by examining a series of x-rays taken of patients over a 13-year period. Researchers were hoping to determine whether calcifications seen on x-rays were linked to the onset of stroke and other types of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers were also hoping to determine whether individuals with gum disease were at a higher risk of having an ischemic stroke or of death during a 17-year follow up period.
Using panoramic dental x-rays, researchers examined the presence of calcification and the bone level around participant’s teeth.
Results of the study showed that seniors with severe gum disease had an increased risk of dying when compared to those without gum disease. Participants with gum disease where more likely to have calcification of the carotid artery. Calcification of the artery is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Researchers also noted that individuals with gum disease also have a higher risk for ischemic stroke as well.
Protecting Your Health
The more research done on what connects the mouth and body, the more we realize just how important protecting our oral health is to our overall health.
Fortunately, lowering your risk for gum disease is fairly simple. Quality oral health requires taking three simple steps.
First, patients must brush at least twice a day. Brushing removes plaque from the surface of our teeth and gums, thereby lowering our risk for gum disease.
Flossing, helps to remove plaque from areas a toothbrush cannot reach – between our teeth and below the gum line.
Finally, quality oral health necessitates receiving regular dental care at our Erie family dental practice. Regular exams and x-rays enable our team of dentists to properly monitor a patient’s oral health. When detected early, it’s simple to reverse the effects of early stage gum disease. However, when patients avoid receiving dental care for years, gingivitis is given the chance to progress into periodontitis.