Many Studies over recent years have proven the link between oral health and systemic health. In particular, the link between periodontitis (gum disease) and conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney disease and even failure of orthopaedic implants.
There are three main connections between oral health and systemic health:
- Bacteria from gum infections increases the total number of harmful bacteria in the mouth and saliva. This bacteria can attach itself to airborne water droplets and be breathed into the lungs, increasing the chance of lung infections and even pneumonia, particularly in elderly and immune compromised patients.
- Bacteria can enter the bloodstream directly through inflamed and infected gums, allowing bacteria to travel to all parts of the body. This can lead to secondary infection elsewhere or exacerbate existing disease processes in various organs and tissues.
- The inflammation of periodontal disease may stimulate a secondary inflammatory response in the body which can add to or complicate existing diseases of inflammatory origin such as kidney disease and various cardiovascular diseases for example.
Do I have periodontitis?
The signs to watch out for are red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If you see blood when spitting after brushing, this is a sure sign of gum inflammation. Other signs which would indicated more advanced gum disease are shifting teeth, loose teeth and chronic bad breath. A family history of gum disease is also worth noting.
What’s the message?
Avoid oral inflammation at all cost. Fortunately, this is a simple thing to achieve, although constant effort is required. No bacteria means no inflammation. Accurate brushing and flossing each day, as well as a good diet low in bacteria-fuelling sugar are the cornerstones of gum disease prevention. Regular visits to the dentist or hygienist for teeth cleaning and gum disease monitoring are also vital to ensure excellent, inflammation-free oral health which will then reduce your chances of poor systemic health.