Posts tagged: bacterial infection

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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