A NEW LEASE—on Life!
By Judit Rajhathy, B.A., RNCP, D.Ac.
Sick Because Of My Teeth?
Did you kno0w that gum disease is linked to heart disease and stroke? Research also suggests that there may be a link between periodontal (gum) disease and other health conditions such as chronic inflammation, diabetes, respiratory disease, pregnancy problems, premature low birth weight babies and even osteoporosis.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) reports that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease compared to those without gum disease.
How does it all work? When plaque becomes built up around the teeth, bacteria forms and irritates the tissues that surround the teeth which is what is known as gingivitis. However once the bacteria goes beneath the gum line it eventually attacks the tissues and even the bone around the teeth which often leads to tooth loss. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) nearly 75% of American adults have some form of periodontal disease. Eventually this periodontal bacteria can enter the bloodstream creating havoc with the rest of the body.
In the case of the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease several theories abound. One is that oral bacteria enters the bloodstream attaching to fatty plaques in the blood vessels thereby contributing to clot formation which in turn obstructs normal blood flow restricting nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function adequately. Another theory is that “the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries” (Perio.org). In addition, it is well known that periodontal disease can worsen existing heart conditions and that these folks need to take antibiotics prior to any dental procedures for safety.
Diabetics are twice as likely to develop gum disease. Inflammation affects blood sugar levels by impairing the body’s ability to process and/or use insulin.
So…if you have gums that bleed easily; red, swollen tender gums; gums that are pulling away from your teeth; bad breath or bad taste in your mouth; loose teeth; changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite or changes in the fit of partial dentures, it is time to visit the dentist. “When you have a chronic infection in your mouth it can put you at a much higher risk for infections elsewhere in your body,” says Sally Cram DDS (ADA).
Just like your dentist has been pleading with you for years, flossing your teeth is one of the most effective ways to prevent periodontal disease. Studies have shown that even after just two weeks of regular flossing can significantly reduce the amount of periodontal disease causing bacteria – and remember that this bacteria can wreak havoc with your entire system. Brushing twice a day, regular dental cleanings and checkups are also essential.
Now that you have taken care of your oral health so that the rest of you can be disease free, add some regular exercise to the mix. See you at the gym!
Judit is the owner of Change of Pace Fitness Center, central Ajijic. She can be reached at 766-5800.