Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

THE LINK BETWEEN ORAL AND BODILY HEALTH

Research shows that there is an association between the health of your mouth and the rest of your body.1

INTRODUCTION TO PERIODONTAL DISEASES

Periodontal diseases are infections involving parts of the body around the teeth, e.g. gums and jaw bone. These range from mild cases such as gingivitis, where the gum is swollen and bleeds occasionally, to more serious occurrences such as periodontitis, where the tooth loses attachment and eventually falls out.1,2

GUM DISEASE AND GINGIVITIS 1,2

The most common type of periodontal disease is gingivitis.

  • Gingivitis develops when bacteria accumulate in the mouth, especially on the teeth.
  • This usually happens as a result of poor oral health habits, e.g. not brushing teeth regularly.
  • The substances released by harmful bacteria, can compromise the body’s immune system and cause gums to swell.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bad Breath
  • Frequent bleeding of gums
  • Gums bleeds easily from bushing, flossing
  • Receding gums

Look out for tender gums and dark red / dark gums as an indication of the development of gum disease (gingivitis).

BACTERIAL INFECTION OF THE BLOOD (BACTEREMIA)3

Bacteria can travel from the mouth and into the bloodstream resulting in an ill-health condition called bacteremia. Any breach inside the mouth (even through eating, chewing, brushing teeth, using toothpicks), exposes the internal body to highly contaminated ecosystem allowing bacteria to travel from the mouth and into the bloodstream. This in turn, leads to bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream).

PERIODONTAL DISEASE IS A RISK FACTOR FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS1,2:

HEART AND BLOOD CIRCULATORY SYSTEM DISEASE2

The constant presence of bacteria in the mouth can lead to thickening of blood vessel walls and ultimately heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

29% of deaths worldwide are due to diseases of the heart and blood circulatory system e.g. heart attack, stroke2.

DIABETES2

Oral infection is linked to insulin resistance where the body is unable to use insulin. This leads to the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes. Approximately 300 million people worldwide will have Type 2 Diabetes in 20252

DIFFICULTIES IN PREGNANCY AND LOW BIRTH WEIGHT OF BABIES2

Periodontal disease can contribute to low birth weights of babies born. Mothers who have periodontal infections are also likely to experience pre-term birth i.e. give birth too early.

OSTEOPOROSIS2

This condition is characterised by weakening of the bones which in turn increases the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis and periodontal infections share the common features of bones loss. They are also worsened by similar factors such as smoking and old age.

LUNG DISEASES1

Periodontal disease is associated with respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Bacteria from the mouth can travel through the air passages leading to the lungs, and cause infections.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM DISEASES2

Poor oral health (e.g. periodontal disease) and tooth loss is linked to diseases such as gastric cancer and ulcers. As the mouth is the entry into the digestive system, harmful bacteria can travel from there to other parts of the digestive system and cause disease.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy and Prevent Gum Disease1

Treatment of periodontal disease can slow down its progression and the development of associated diseases. Practice good oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing to help prevent the development of periodontal disease.

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References:

1 Anil S, Al-Ghamdi HS. The impact of periodontal infections on systemic diseases. An update for medical practitioners. Saudi Med J 2006, Vol, 27 (6):767-776.

2 Kim J, Amar S. Periodontal disease and systemic conditions: a bidirectional relationship. Odontology 2006, 94 :10-21.

3 Mayo Clinic, Symptoms And Causes. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/disease-conditions/gingivitis/symptoms-causes/.... Accessed 5 Apr 2017.

4 Roda RP, Jimenez Y, Carbonell E, et al. Bacteremia originating in the oral cavity. A review. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2008 2008 Jun1; 13(6): E355-62.