If you thought preventing gum disease only benefits your oral hygiene, think again. Gum disease, also called periodontitis, can be the prelude to more serious health issues far beyond your mouth. It turns out that the health of your gums can dictate long-term health from head to toe.
Millions of Americans currently suffer from gum disease. Symptoms include swollen, red, and tender gums. Gum disease is curable if caught early. To avoid gum disease, it is enough to floss regularly, brush your teeth twice a day, use mouthwash and have routine checkups with the dentist.
So how does the condition relate to overall health? Research published on StudyFinds over the years reveals links between gum disease and everything from heart complications and blood pressure to mental health issues. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly to learn about your gum health and how to prevent periodontitis.
Here is an overview of some of the health problems associated with gum disease:
Increases the risk of heart disease
Add gum disease to the growing list of factors that increase your risk of heart disease, according to the findings. The association was all the stronger when the periodontitis was severe.
“Our study suggests that dental screening programs, including regular checkups and education about good dental hygiene, can help prevent early and later cardiac events.” says Dr. Giulia Ferrannini of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and author of the study. “We postulate that damage to periodontal tissues in people with gum disease may facilitate the transfer of germs into the bloodstream. This could accelerate harmful blood vessel changes and/or enhance vessel-damaging systemic inflammation.
People with gum disease were 49% more likely to have heart problems than people with healthy gums, the study concludes.
READ MORE: Having gum disease increases risk of future heart problems
Risk of developing mental health problems, autoimmune diseases
Poor dental health can also lead to poor mental health, study finds. Researchers from the University of Birmingham say developing gum disease can also increase the risk of suffering from depression and anxiety in later years. In addition to mental health issues, the study authors found that a history of gum disease can significantly increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and even metabolic disorders like diabetes.
Researchers examined the medical histories of more than 64,000 people with a history of periodontal disease during the study. This includes gingivitis and periodontitis – a serious gum infection that leads to bleeding gums and can destroy the jawbone without immediate treatment. Overall, 60,995 participants had gingivitis and 3,384 had periodontitis.
The results show that those who suffered from periodontal disease at the start of the study had a 37% higher risk of developing mental health problems over the following three years. The study authors note that these problems include higher rates of depression, anxiety and “serious mental illness”.
“An important implication of our findings is the need for effective communication between dental professionals and other healthcare professionals to ensure patients get an effective treatment plan targeting both oral health and more. broad in order to improve their existing general health and reduce the risk of future disease,” adds co-lead author Professor Krish Nirantharakumar.
READ MORE: Gum disease increases the risk of developing mental health problems by almost 40%
Those with gum disease are 9 times more likely to die from COVID-19
It’s no secret that patients have been afraid to enter the dentist during COVID-19 because of all the tiny particles that can fly through the air. However, for people with gum problems, a cleaning could save their life. Gum disease patients who contract COVID-19 are alarming, study finds Nine times more likely to die.
An international team finds that COVID patients are three times more likely to end up in intensive care or on a ventilator if they already have periodontitis. About half of the world’s population over the age of 30 suffers from periodontitis. Gum disease causes swelling and bleeding in and around the gums that line the teeth.
If not treated properly, the inflammation can spread throughout the body and even infect the lungs. Coronavirus patients on ventilators could be particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to inhale oral bacteria, scientists say.
“The study results suggest that inflammation of the oral cavity could open the door to a coronavirus becoming more violent,” study co-author Professor Lior Shapira of Hebrew University. “Oral care should be part of health recommendations to reduce the risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19.”
READ MORE: Patients with gum disease are 9 times more likely to die from COVID-19!
From the gum to the intestine: periodontitis aggravates IBD
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects approximately three million people in the United States. An imbalance in the gut microbiome can lead to painful and sometimes chronic stomach upset. A study suggests that problems in your gut may actually start with problems in your mouth. Researchers at the University of Michigan say poor oral hygiene can make a person’s IBD worse.
The study reveals two possible pathways for bacteria in a patient’s mouth to travel to the gut and cause further inflammation. Researcher Nobuhiko Kamada says there is growing evidence that people with IBD have an overgrowth of foreign bacteria in their gut. This bacteria, Kamada says, usually starts in the mouth.
Researchers say gum disease creates an unhealthy imbalance in the mouth microbiome. This bacterium causes both inflammation and disease which then spreads through the gut. This particular process does not trigger IBD, the researchers say, but it did worsen symptoms in mice with colon inflammation. “In mice with IBD, healthy gut bacteria are disrupted, which weakens their ability to resist pathogenic bacteria in the mouth,” says Kamada.
The team also claims that periodontitis actually causes the body’s own immune system to damage the gut. Gum disease causes the immune system to respond by sending T cells into the mouth to fight infection. In a healthy gut, inflammatory and regulatory T cells work in harmony and are able to tolerate local bacteria. Researchers say that gum disease triggers the primarily inflammatory T-cell response. These cells eventually travel to the gut and upset the natural balance, causing disease to worsen.
READ MORE: Brush for your gut! Doctors say poor oral hygiene can make IBD worse
Strong link with high blood pressure
What do swollen and bleeding gums have to do with high blood pressure? Apparently more than you might expect. Research shows that people with gum disease are more likely to have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, affecting 30-45% of the population. Similarly, inflammation of the gums, connective tissue and bones supporting the teeth is present in more than half of the world’s population. Doctors say it’s no coincidence that many people struggle with both conditions.
Previous research has suggested a link between the two diseases. For the study, the researchers gathered information from 81 studies conducted in 26 countries. They sought to determine how often patients with moderate to severe cases of gum disease also have high blood pressure. The results showed that patients with periodontitis tended to have higher blood pressure – 4.5 mmHg higher systolic (contracted) blood pressure and 2 mmHg higher diastolic (resting) blood pressure, on average.
Although that may seem like a small number, researchers claim that an increase in blood pressure of just 5 mmHg increases the risk of death from heart attack or stroke by 25%. In total, the authors calculated that the risks of hypertension were 22% higher for patients with moderate to severe periodontitis and 49% higher for patients with severe periodontitis.
READ MORE: Gum disease has strong link to high blood pressure, study finds
Gum disease linked to Alzheimer’s disease
Brushing your teeth twice a day will do more than just clean your teeth, it may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study.
Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway claim that the bacteria responsible for gingivitis, gum disease – P. gingivalis – has been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and is thought to significantly increase the risk of developing the disease. Enzymes produced by the bacteria, known as gingipains, destroy nerve cells in the brain and cause memory loss, before developing into Alzheimer’s, the authors explain.
For the study, the researchers recruited 53 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and found the bacteria in the brains of 96% of the participants. Although the bacteria does not cause Alzheimer’s disease on its own, researchers say it plays a major role in its development and may also hasten it.
“We found DNA-based evidence that the bacteria responsible for gingivitis can travel from the mouth to the brain,” says study co-author Piotr Mydel, a researcher in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Institute. university.
READ MORE: Brushing your teeth twice a day helps ward off Alzheimer’s disease, study finds
As always, consult your dentist and doctor about any issues with your oral hygiene or any concerns you have with the health conditions listed in this article.