Category: Oral Systemic Link

Gum Disease Treatment Can Reduce Medical Cost for Diabetics By $2,500/yr

The results of a study were recently published in Medscape showing individuals with diabetes who received proper gum disease treatment could reduce their medical bills by an average of $2,500 a year [1]. Although the data came from a sample of insured people suffering from both diabetes and periodontal disease and was not a randomized controlled trial, it does emphasize the association between systemic and oral health.

The study looked at data for diabetics with medical insurance, and divided them into two separate groups. The first group received treatment for their periodontal disease and then went on to receive routine dental maintenance treatments, while the second group initially received treatment for their periodontal disease but did not go on to complete the treatment or receive dental maintenance treatments.

It was found that the group of patients who were treated for gum disease on a routine basis had lower medical bills two years later compared to the group who did not receive routine treatments. The findings seem to indicate that periodontal treatment can have a lasting effect on patients with diabetes. Interestingly, the results showed men who continued with their periodontal treatment saved an average of $3,212.36 in medical costs while women who continued with their treatment saved an average of $735.27.

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Dr. Oz Discusses How Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

There is substantial evidence to support the link between gum disease and serious health conditions, such as heart attack, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Now, the mainstream media is taking on this issue too.  In the below interview, Dr. Oz discusses how brushing your teeth daily may help prevent you from developing a heart attack.

Dr. Oz’s interview only reiterates what research has long suggested – your oral health is important to your overall health. Studies conducted in Great Britain, Canada, United States, Germany and Sweden have found people suffering from periodontitis have between a 25% and 100% increased risk of suffering from heart attacks. Other clinical studies suggest a link between periodontitis and the development of strokes. In this video, Dr. Oz discusses how bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream, triggering the clumping of platelets that form blood clots, and increasing your risk of thrombosis. These blood clots can either block blood vessels supplying the heart, creating the right conditions for a heart attack, or they can block the arteries supplying blood to the brain, increasing the risk of a stroke. Periodontal disease has also been linked to other serious conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment for this disease has been found to not only improve oral health but to also have a beneficial effect on rheumatoid arthritis.

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Gum Disease May Mean More Than Just Bad Breath

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1, 43% of Americans will have lost at least six teeth by the age of 65, and many of these teeth will have been lost due to periodontal disease. Another 18% have lost all their teeth. While this statistic is extremely grim, periodontal disease has much wider implications for overall health, and one of the earliest signs of periodontal disease can be persistent bad breath.

Although it’s upsetting to have bad breath, it is one of the mildest side-effects of gum disease. Gum disease is a potentially serious condition, and clinical studies have shown that gum disease, or periodontal disease, generally develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. Japan’s Kyushu Dental College2 has done extensive research into the causes of bad breath, and has identified the microbes responsible for causing this somewhat antisocial condition.

They examined 101 adult volunteers, some of whom were suffering from periodontal disease while others had healthy mouths. By analyzing saliva samples from the group, the research team was able to identify species of a microbe called Bacteroides forsythus, which is normally found deep under the gum line in cases of advanced periodontal disease. This microbe is strongly correlated with bad breath. While this is interesting, it’s important to remember that poor oral health can have far more serious ramifications for your overall health. Read More

Cavity-Causing Bacteria Linked To Endocarditis

We have long ago heard that gum disease may be linked to heart disease, but now due to recent discoveries made at the University of Rochester, there is even more evidence to shed light on why and how our oral health may affect the heart.

Thanks to the investigative work of Jacqueline Abranches, Ph.D. and her team at the University of Rochester’s Center for Oral Biology, we can now better understand why the cavity-inducing bacteria called Streptococcus mutans may be a leading cause of endocarditis, the potentially deadly inflammation of the heart valves. Infectious endocarditis can result in the destruction of heart valves and cardiac muscle, leading to “leaky heart valves” and heart failure.  Untreated or undertreated endocarditis is often fatal.

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A Message About Gum Disease After Grandpa’s Open Heart Surgery

When I visited St. Paul’s recently after my grandpa had open heart surgery, I wasn’t expecting a lesson on oral hygiene and its link to heart disease.  I went in expecting to hear about the evils of fatty foods and red meat which are the more commonly accepted reasons for heart attacks.

After finally locating grandpa’s room, my sister and I sat down, tied the ‘Get Well Soon’ balloon to his chair and prepared to listen.  It turns out that open heart surgery is a look more intense than I ever expected.  I was stunned to learn that my grandpa’s surgeons had to actually break open his rib cage to access his heart.  This explained the presence of a small wrapped bag on his chest that he wasn’t allowed to take off.  He said that when he coughed it felt like his chest was going to pop open.  That was more than I needed to hear to know I was not interested in having open heart surgery and prevention was the way to go.

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Gum Disease And Its Link To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research is increasingly pointing towards a link between the two conditions. We’ve blogged about gum disease and its link to stroke, breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even pre-term births, let’s look at rheumatoid arthritis. More than 1.3 million Americans suffer from this condition, and it’s been discovered by German researchers in Berlin, that patients with this condition can have a higher prevalence of periodontal disease. In fact a study of 57 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 52 healthy controls discovered that people with this condition are nearly eight times as likely to have periodontal disease1.

The study determined the oral health of rheumatoid arthritis patients and the healthy controls, and took into account demographic and lifestyle characteristics such as gender, age and tobacco use. It’s been found that treating periodontal disease can lessen the degree of arthritic pain and stiffness in sufferers.

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Gum Disease and Its Link to Strokes

As the daughter of a periodontist, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of gum disease is the horrific sight of bleeding gums and exposed teeth shining from my mother’s computer screen as she’s making dinner.

Obviously, gum disease is much more complex and important than its role as food for my childhood nightmares. Tooth and gum infections are of bacterial origin, and can develop slowly and without pain, making the consequences all the more drastic. As explained by Health Canada: “By the time the infection becomes apparent, you could be in danger of losing your teeth.” [i] Gum disease attacks the point of attachment between your teeth and gums, and usually begins with plaque buildups in that area of the mouth, which hardens when teeth are not cleaned properly.[ii]

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New Swedish Study links periodontitis to breast cancer

Recently, signs of past and present oral infections have been linked to an increased incidence of breast cancer

Since the early 1990’s, a number of systemic maladies have been associated with chronic periodontitis.  Initially, these reports were greeted skeptically.  Many suspected no pathophysiological relationships, and questioned if the correlations were just coincidence or were indicative of etiologically unrelated co-morbidities.  Such doubts were sensible given the possibility that data mining may have biased early reports.  Nevertheless, others were spurred to perform additional studies that uncovered additional associations, etiologic explanations and assessed the effects of periodontal interventions on systemic conditions.

Years later, it’s now thought the systemic inflammatory burden incurred by those with periodontitis, along with the seeding of oral pathogens via the circulation to other sites, represent plausible pathophysiological explanations underscoring the potential for periodontitis to aggravate or even help induce certain systemic conditions.[i] Read More

Gum Disease and Its Link To Heart Disease

Patients with gum disease can be almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease

Can gum disease affect your heart’s health? The latest studies are suggesting so. Scientists have found that people with gum disease can be almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as healthy patients1.  Other studies have shown that having common problems in oral health, such as gum disease, can be as good of a predictor of heart disease as cholesterol levels2.

More than half of all people over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease, but many still do not realize the serious health risks that have been associated with having oral health problems. For the past 80 years, heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death in the US3.  Much research has shown that a link between gum disease and heart problems exists, but we currently do not understand how this relationship actually works. Read More

Gum Disease And Its Link To Diabetes

Diabetic patient testing their blood sugar levels

Diabetes is a lifelong disease affecting 285 million people worldwide. In our previous blog post, we explored gum disease and its link to preterm births. Now, let’s look at gum disease and its link to diabetes.

Although people with diabetes are known to be at increased risk of gum disease, it has been unclear which of these diseases comes first. Many studies have shown that treating gum disease can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes1. Alternatively, other studies have suggested that the reverse may also be true2. Either way you look at it, the latest research suggests that diabetics must become more aware of the role gum disease plays in their overall health and be more proactive in improving both. Read More

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