There are millions of germs that live in your mouth. If you suffer from gum disease, you have open wounds in your gums that allow the bacteria to enter directly into your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. Some of the bacteria normally found in the mouth enter your bloodstream through infected gums and can relocate to other parts of your body with the potential of creating disease in organs and systems.

Much research is being done to investigate if a definitive link exists between periodontal disease and other systemic illnesses. Many of the results are inconclusive; however, research has shown some links between periodontal disease and heart disease, ischemic stroke, respiratory disease, head and neck cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and increased risk of pre-term delivery.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for the majority of adults in the United States. Losing your teeth, however, is not the only danger of this disease.

When you have gum disease, there is an active, living infection in your mouth. This infection releases toxins to the entire body through the blood vessels in your mouth causing a variety of health-related issues.

Stages Of Gum Disease

The daily monotonous task of brushing and flossing your teeth has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and reduce the risks gum disease places on your overall healthaThe daily monotonous task of brushing and flossing your teeth has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and reduce the risks gum disease places on your overall health.

It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease which can be linked to serious health complications and causes dental problems that are avoidable.

There are three main stages of gum disease:

Stage 1: Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is caused by plaque buildup around the gum line which causes inflammation of the gums. If you neglect to brush or floss your teeth daily, this plaque buildup will trap bacteria and cause gum disease. Gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums. Gums that should otherwise be pink will appear red and swollen; you could experience bleeding when you brush or floss. However, at this point, gingivitis can still be reversed. The bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place have not yet been affected

Stage 2: Periodontitis

If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will become periodontitis. At this stage, the supporting bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place have been irreversibly damaged. Your gums begin to form “pockets,” deep hollow areas around the teeth that trap food, plaque, and bacteria. Your gums will recede and form gaps between your teeth. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further damage and tooth loss.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis

In this final stage, periodontitis has been left untreated and has become advanced periodontitis. Bacteria that was allowed to grow, spread, and cause destruction has destroyed the connective tissues and bones that support the teeth. The pockets that formed in the previous stage have become much deeper. Your teeth can shift or loosen. Loose teeth that move around in the mouth may affect your bite. At this state, aggressive treatment is needed to save the teeth.

Gum Disease and Diabetes

Research has come forth that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways. Gum problems can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Those who have diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than those who do not which makes it vital for diabetics to maintain their blood sugar and seek treatment.

Diabetes Increases Chances of Periodontal Disease

Diabetics, as a result of their increased susceptibility to infection, are at greater risk of developing periodontal disease than those without diabetes. Those who do not have their diabetes under control are at an even greater risk. Uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection that can occur in the mouth. Allowing diabetes to be left uncontrolled greatly increases a diabetic’s risk of moderate to severe gum disease. Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation, and poor healing in the oral tissues. All of these complications of diabetes can put a patient at greater risk for periodontal disease, but the inflammation of the gums is by far the most threatening. Besides impairing white blood cells, diabetes also causes blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow of nutrients and waste products from the tissues of the mouth. This inflammation greatly reduces the body’s ability to fight infections, such as the bacterial infection that causes periodontitis or gum disease.

Additionally, the damage that periodontal disease can do is far greater in a diabetic patient than one without diabetes because healing in diabetics may be impaired, allowing the periodontal disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: A Two-Way Street

Not only does diabetes affect periodontal disease, but it has been shown to affect a patient’s diabetes. The relationship is a two-way street. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for patients with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

Periodontal disease has been shown to increase blood sugar which contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with high blood sugar. Bacterial infections, like periodontal disease, can affect the patient’s metabolism making it far more complicated to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because gum disease is a chronic infection, it has a negative impact on the diabetic’s ability to maintain control of the metabolic status. All of these effects can increase the risk for some of the complications of diabetes: glaucoma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure.

Several studies have found that treating periodontal disease helps diabetics control their blood sugars. One such study of 113 Pima Indians, published in the Journal of Periodontology (1997), found that when the Indians’ periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease in the Diabetic

If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment today. Treatment options for periodontal disease vary and can help you maintain and control your diabetic status. If you are diabetic, it is crucial for you to have healthy gums. Healthy gums will make it easier for you to control your blood sugar levels ultimately saving you time, effort, and money!

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

There are millions of germs that live in your mouth. If you suffer from gum disease, you have open wounds in your gums that allow the bacteria to enter directly into your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. Some of the bacteria normally found in the mouth enter your bloodstream through infected gums and can relocate to other parts of your body with the potential of creating disease in organs and systems.

Much research is being done to investigate if a definitive link exists between periodontal disease and other systemic illnesses. Many of the results are inconclusive; however, research has shown some links between periodontal disease and heart disease, ischemic stroke, respiratory disease, head and neck cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and increased risk of pre-term delivery.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for the majority of adults in the United States. Losing your teeth, however, is not the only danger of this disease.

When you have gum disease, there is an active, living infection in your mouth. This infection releases toxins to the entire body through the blood vessels in your mouth causing a variety of health-related issues.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease.

The link between gum and heart problems has long been recognized but it is unclear if poor oral health is simply a marker of a person’s general well being. UK and Irish experts now say bacteria enter the bloodstream via sore gums and deposit a clot-forming protein. The findings are being presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.

Earlier this year a Scottish study of more than 11,000 people found people who did not brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk of heart disease. It backed up previous findings that suggested a link, but researchers stressed the nature of the relationship still needed further analysis.

Protective Platelets

Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria – responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease – which may be to blame.
Their work shows this bacteria, once let loose in the bloodstream, makes a protein known as PadA which forces platelets in the blood to stick together and clot.

Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

“This provides a protective cover not only from the immune system, but also from antibiotics that might be used to treat infection,” said Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the research.

“Unfortunately, as well as helping out the bacteria, platelet clumping can cause small blood clots, growths on the heart valves, or inflammation of blood vessels that can block the blood supply to the heart and brain.”

While maintaining good dental hygiene could minimize the risk, the team is also investigating how the platelet-activating function of the protein PadA can be blocked.

Professor Damian Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: “Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

“It also underlines the high importance of brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, restricting your intake of sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly in order to maintain good oral health.”

The British Heart Foundation said that were other factors besides oral health which had a greater impact on heart health.

But their senior cardiac nurse Cathy Ross added that combining good oral health care “with a healthy diet, not smoking and taking part in plenty of physical activity will go a long way in helping you reduce your overall risk of heart disease”.

Gum Disease and Pregnancy Complications

Most women are aware that smoking, drinking, and drug use have negative effects on pregnancy. Something that many women may not be aware of is the effect that having gum disease has on pregnant women.

There are studies that show pregnant women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to pre-term and low birth weight babies when they have gum disease.It is important for more research to be done regarding this correlation, but one thing is for sure…Any active infection in pregnant women should be avoided at all costs; gum disease is a living, breathing infection in your mouth. Get it treated.

Studies by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry revealed that women with gum (periodontal) disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a pre-term, low birth weight baby. Compare that with the effects of alcohol and smoking, which are said to increase the odds of a low birth weight baby by only three times.

Gum disease and Moms-to-be

How can your gums affect the weight of the fetus? It has to do with the fact that periodontal disease causes bacterial infections. Pregnant women should avoid any situation where they can obtain an infection, knowing that there may be repercussions on their health or that of the unborn baby. It is becoming clear that an infection of gum tissues is no exception.

Women who have experienced problems with their oral health are most likely to experience gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease) during pregnancy. Even tissues in the mouth undergo changes during pregnancy. Gingivitis usually appears in the second or third month and can last all the way through the eighth month of pregnancy. If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, this could indicate that you have gingivitis.

If a dental professional does not treat these red and swollen gums, the condition can deteriorate to periodontal disease, which can attack the gums and bone surrounding the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss. The natural space between your teeth and gums becomes infected. Pockets can form where bacteria thrive. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that toxins are then released into the bloodstream, and the body reacts by producing chemicals that cause premature labor.

Will I know if I have gum disease?

You may not normally experience pain with gingivitis or periodontal disease, but there are other symptoms:

  1.  red, swollen, or tender gums
  2. bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  3. gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
  4. loose teeth
  5. a change in your bite
  6. pus between teeth and gums
  7. persistent bad breath

More research is underway to determine how pregnant women with periodontal disease should be treated. For now, we suggest having your oral health checked before you consider pregnancy or as soon as possible after you know you are pregnant.

Gum Disease and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a major concern for many older men and women.  It’s estimated that more than 40 million people either already suffer from the disease or are at risk for developing it. Recent research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw.  When bone loss in the jaw occurs, teeth that are usually supported and anchored by the jawbone may become loose; tooth loss may occur.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.”  Normal human bone looks like a honeycomb, but bones affected by osteoporosis have holes and spaces that are much bigger.  This means the bones have lost density or mass.  As bones become less dense, they become weaker and more brittle making the simplest chores like picking up a newspaper potentially hazardous. Something like picking up a child or even sneezing could cause a break.

Bones are living tissue and are constantly being absorbed and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the body cannot create new bone quickly enough to keep up with the removal of old bone. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the human body, including the jawbone.   It can occur in men and women, but it most often occurs in Caucasian women over the age of 65.

How does Osteoporosis Affect my Oral Health?

Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease. Because osteoporosis can occur in any bone in the body, the jawbone is susceptible to the disease. Low bone density in the jaw can result in loose teeth and tooth loss. Women who have osteoporosis may have trouble with loose or ill-fitting dentures as the bone is absorbed but not replaced over time.

Women with periodontal disease and osteoporosis are especially susceptible to tooth loss. Studies have recently shown a strong relationship between periodontitis, osteoporosis, and tooth loss.  It has been suggested that the loss of bone density in the jaw may leave teeth more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum disease.

Steps Towards Healthy Bones

Preserving the health of your bones is vital to your overall and oral health. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you have optimal bone health:

  1. Eat a balanced diet rich with vitamin D and calcium.
  2. Exercise regularly.  Weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training are best for keeping bones strong.
  3. Do not smoke; limit alcohol consumption.
  4. Report any issues with loose teeth, detached or receding gums, or ill-fitting dentures to your dentist immediately.

Gum Disease and Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.; more than 30,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year. It is an extremely difficult cancer to treat, and little is known about what causes it. One established risk factor in pancreatic cancer is cigarette smoking; other links have been made to obesity, diabetes type 2, and insulin resistance. In a new study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that periodontal disease was associated with an increased risk of cancer of the pancreas. The study appeared in the January 17, 2007, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Our study provides the first strong evidence that periodontal disease may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. This finding is of significance as it may provide some new insights into the mechanism of this highly fatal disease,” said lead author Dominique Michaud, assistant professor of epidemiology at HSPH.

<strong> Periodontal disease</strong> is caused by bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that, over time, cause loss of bone supporting the teeth; tooth loss is a consequence of severe periodontal disease. Two previous studies had found a link between tooth loss or periodontitis and pancreatic cancer. One study consisted of all smokers, and the other did not control for smoking in the analysis; therefore, no firm conclusions could be drawn from these studies.

Data for the new study came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986, and included 51,529 U.S. men working in the health professions. Participants responded to questionnaires about their health every two years. After analyzing the data, the researchers confirmed 216 cases of pancreatic cancer between 1986 and 2002; of those, 67 reported periodontal disease.

The results showed that–after adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, body mass index, and a number of other factors–men with periodontal disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those reporting no periodontal disease. “Most convincing was our finding that never-smokers had a two-fold increase in risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Michaud.

One possible explanation for the results is that inflammation from periodontal disease may promote cancer of the pancreas. “Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, and these may somehow contribute to the promotion of cancer cells,” she said.

Another explanation, according to Michaud, is that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis because individuals with periodontal disease have higher levels of oral bacteria and higher levels of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens, in their oral cavity. Prior studies have shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.

Michaud; senior author Charles Fuchs, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Dana-Farber; and their colleagues believe that further studies should be done to investigate the role of inflammation from periodontal disease in pancreatic cancer. However, Michaud notes that the underlying mechanisms for this association are speculative at this point. “More research is needed both to confirm this finding in other populations and also to explore the role of inflammation in this particular cancer,” she said.

Gum Disease and Stroke

What is a Stroke?
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and the leading cause of death in older Americans. It is estimated that an one American suffers from an instance every 45 seconds. With one in four men and one in five women over the age of 45 suffering from a stroke, reducing your risk of having one is very important.

Stroke occurs when the blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen are damaged or compromised. Restricting the brain of oxygen, even briefly, can result in a stroke. Strokes are widely feared because of their debilitating aftermath. Even minor or mini-strokes can result in life-altering consequences, such as paralysis, weakness, aphasia (losing the ability to speak, write, or understand language), and mental health changes.

Stroke and Periodontal Disease

Recent studies have shown that people with moderate to advanced periodontal disease are at a greater risk. One study published by the American Stroke Association in 2004 showed that patients with severe periodontitis, or gum disease, had a 4.3 times higher risk of stroke than those with mild or no periodontal disease. The bottom line is: If you have an infection in your mouth 24 hours a day for 7 days per week, then it is going to spread to your entire body!

New studies are released every year linking periodontal disease and stroke. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable and treatable and is an easy way to eliminate one risk factor you may have for stroke.