Studies have shown that infection and inflammation of the oral cavity correlates with other medical conditions, like a heart attack or dementia, and can cause serious health concerns over a period of time. Although the causes and effects between oral health and health conditions are not yet established, the number of health problems associated with dental health is flourishing.
Plaques and oral health
Plaque is a thin biofilm of bacteria that lives on gum tissues, teeth, and crowns. These biofilms are constantly formed on teeth. The bacteria in the plaque release acids whenever a person eats or drinks anything with starch or sugar. It is the acid that attacks the enamel of an individual's teeth, resulting in tooth decay.
Built up plaque will lead to an infection of the gums, known as gingivitis. Gingivitis causes tender and swollen gums that can potentially bleed. As the infection progresses, it causes severe periodontal disease. The gum tissue moves away from the teeth and the bacteria destroys the bone that supports the teeth.
Periodontal, or gum disease, is associated with a number of conditions such as:
Some researchers suggest that the oral bacteria may escape into the blood stream, which can affect major organs. The actual effects of the oral bacteria on other organs are still unknown. Furthermore, periodontal disease can cause inflammation all over the body, which is the underlying cause for all major diseases, like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Gum Disease and the Heart
Studies have shown that people who have gum disease have an increased risk of heart conditions, including a heart attack. The relationship between periodontal disease and poor heart health was presented in 2009 by the American Academy of Periodontology and The American Journal of Cardiology. The consensus of this study was published in The American Journal of Cardiology.
The joint recommendations presented in the consensus suggest that cardiologists should ask their patients about their gum health, while periodontists should inquire about the medical history of the patient and the patient's family history regarding heart conditions.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
People with gum disease have a higher risk of developing diabetes when compared to those who have healthy gums. In addition, people who have diabetes are more likely to develop gum infections. If an individual doesn't properly manage his or her diabetes, he or she can create a higher risk for gum disease.
Gum Disease and Dementia
The risk of dementia increases with the presence of gum disease. Studies have shown that periodontal problems lead to other cognitive impairments, such as memory problems, which makes routine day-to-day activities difficult. People with gum disease show a poor performance in mental ability tests and calculations.
Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis
People with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop gum disease. One study showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis often have missing teeth when compared to those who do not have this condition. Both conditions, gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, are characterized by inflammation. One of the studies conducted in 2009 showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis that received treatment for gum disease didn't have as much pain, swelling, and morning stiffness.
Gum Disease and Premature Birth
The results of studies linking gum disease and premature birth are conflicting. Some of the studies show that women with gum disease are more likely to have premature delivery. Pre-term delivery can create a higher health risk for the child; however, other studies do not support this view.
Although the results are conflicting, studies have shown that women who have periodontal disease are more likely to complete their pregnancy term and are less likely to deliver premature babies when compared to those who did not receive any treatment.
Plaque can be managed by brushing your teeth twice a day. Flossing also helps to control the growth of biofilms. Antimicrobial mouthwash can also prevent the growth of bacteria.
Getting your teeth cleaned regularly by professionals is a good option for having a healthy oral cavity. Some people might benefit from having a protective coating or sealant on their back teeth because that is where decay often begins.