In our last two blog posts we have discussed the relationship between gum disease and coronary artery disease and diabetes. We are continuing the discussion of the oral-body link by introducing the results of research that has found a connection of gum (periodontal) disease and other systemic illness.
Stroke is a disease affecting the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. A stroke happens when a blood vessel bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged. Gums that have periodontal disease release inflammatory chemicals and bacteria into the bloodstream. This release can result in clogging of the arteries, affect blood platelets, and contribute to the onset of a stroke. Research studies have shown that poor oral health, assessed by dental index, was more common in patients with cerebral infarction (an area of the brain with restricted blood supply).
Infective endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the heart valves or the heart lining. It occurs when bacteria in the bloodstream lodge on abnormal heart valves or damaged heart tissue. Endocarditis rarely occurs in people with normal hearts, but people who have certain preexisting heart defects are at risk for developing endocarditis when there’s a bacterial infection circulating in the bloodstream. Infective endocarditis is a serious and often fatal systemic disease that has been associated with dental diseases and some treatment of periodontal disease.
Pregnancy can influence gum health and gum health can influence pregnancy. Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy promote an inflammation called pregnancy gingivitis. This type of gingivitis may happen without changes in plaque (bacteria levels). Oral contraceptives can also produce changes in gum health.
Gum disease is a gram-negative infection and may have the potential to affect the outcome of pregnancy. During pregnancy the ratio of these anaerobic bacteria versus aerobic bacteria increases in dental plaque in the second trimester and the effect has been in some cases, low birth weight babies.
The research continues to uncover more links between oral disease and our overall health. Studies are also implicating a connection with Alzheimer’s disease, as well.
For information about other dental topics and to get your free copy of our brochure, “The Mouth-Body Link,” visit www.DrTav.com