Simply stated, what happens in the mouth affects the body, and vice versa. A November 2016 scientific study by medical doctors Bradley Bale and Amy Doneen has unequivocally confirmed the cause and effect relationship of periodontal disease to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Those with periodontal disease are also at a vastly higher susceptibility rate to COVID-19 and other similar diseases. Dr. Lisa Marie Samaha at Port Warwick Dental Arts has decades of training in integrative and functional medicine, to include advanced nutritional physiology. She is one of few dentists in the area to practice holistic dentistry, which operates from the belief system that your teeth are an integral part of your body and your overall health. [Click here to read more]
Thousands of scientific studies have been published over the past 20 years that demonstrate periodontal disease (gum disease) is also associated with diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, many cancers, lung and kidney disease, anemia, and obesity. Periodontal disease is also linked to erectile dysfunction and infertility and can even contribute to complications in pregnancy for mother and baby, including the serious preterm birth of babies – even death of an unborn baby – from periodontal infection in the pregnant mother. (Contrary to outdated thought, dental care during pregnancy is highly recommended, even critical.)
What is the infectious super highway that begins in the mouth? The most common oral disease is periodontal (gum) disease, which shows no signs or symptoms until it has already begun to harm the rest of the body. Once gums begin to bleed, they are already infected. The aggressive bacteria of periodontal disease begin circulating throughout our 70,000- plus miles of blood vessels. Scientists have proven that the combined effects of inflammation and periodontal bacteria in the blood contribute to the worsening of other bodily diseases. Dental disease can even be life-threatening. The American Academy of Cardiology, The American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have published statements recommending that physicians collaborate with dentists to make sure that their patients are adequately screened for periodontal disease and aggressively treated if the disease is present. Take away all of the other factors, and what do you have? Most studies have reported a conclusive association between periodontal disease and disease in the rest of the body after accounting for the effects of multiple risk factors such as age, sex, diabetes, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, obesity, smoking status, dietary patterns, race/ ethnicity, education and socioeconomic status. The truly alarming fact is that periodontal disease is an inflammatory, infectious—highly contagious—disease. In fact, if one member of a family is diagnosed with periodontal disease, the American Academy of Periodontology recommends that the entire family be evaluated. The family becomes a pod of infection through eating and drinking after one another, and kissing.
What are the causes of oral infections? Besides poor oral hygiene causing a build-up of bacteria in the mouth which breakdown gum tissue and bone, the reasons for periodontal disease are: inadequate professional care, unhealthy nutritional habits, smoking, psychological stress, mental disorders, dry mouth, hormonal changes, certain medications and medical conditions, decayed teeth, broken-down fillings and sometimes, genetics. Decay and physical trauma are also causes of oral infections. Imagine the impact we could have on the prevention of heart disease and many other chronic illnesses if periodontal disease was eliminated.
Is there treatment? Dental disease can be successfully and gently treated at any stage, but in its most severe state, removal of teeth might be necessary. Sadly, only about 10% of those with periodontal disease even know they have it, and less than 6% are being treated for their infection, according to dental insurance company statistics. The good news is that periodontal disease is 100% preventable. Treatment at any stage is critical for total health. The sooner periodontal disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat it successfully, but it is never too late to control the disease and its effects on the body. In the past, scalpel/suture surgery was the typical treatment for most periodontal disease, but today there are many gentler, non-surgical options for successful treatment. There are many steps you can take to avoid gum surgery, loss of teeth and complications in the rest of the body, as long as you are under a watchful, skilled, professional eye. Is it time for your next dental visit? Your health— even your life—may depend on it. If you or a loved one are overdue for a dental visit, don’t pass up an opportunity to keep your smile bright and your body healthy. Click here for the opportunity to receive a highly personalized consultation and dental screening.