It seems that the root of all evil stems from the mouth; more specifically, the gums.
Over the years, periodontal disease has been linked to every thing from impotence, to heart disease, to cancer.
And now, far fetched as it may sound, gum disease may be linked to failed orthopedic implants. Yes, you read right – the implants used to rebuild your granny’s hip.
While you may be thinking: “Who on God’s green Earth decided to examine whether or not a person’s infected artificial knee was caused by their teeth?” – and you’d have a point – there’s actually a serious case to be made.
According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2007, bacteria that enter the bloodstream via the bleeding gums caused by periodontal disease can cause infections in artificial joints. These infections, as the study states “can be potentially devastating.”
The results of a recent study published in the British Medical Journal Open seem to indicate the possibility of a link between risk of premature death due to cancer and persistent dental plaque. The study took place in Stockholm, Sweden and was led by Professor Birgitta Söder. It was pretty comprehensive as it looked at the health of nearly 1,400 Swedish adults over a period of 24 years. The objective of the study was to determine whether or not the amount of dental plaque, which generally indicates poor oral hygiene, could be associated with premature death from cancer.
The study started in 1985 when the participants were all in their 30s and 40s, and continued until 2009. At the beginning of the study all participants were given a questionnaire to discover if there were any factors that might increase their risk of developing cancer. The questionnaire assessed variables such as whether or not they smoked, and their socio-economic status. They also received a clinical assessment. This revealed that while gum disease wasn’t prevalent, there were substantial deposits of plaque on the tooth surface.
The latest research is suggesting so. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine have found the body is better able to fight off gum disease when it has fewer fat cells as these cells can trigger inflammation. The findings come from a pilot study of 31 obese people who had an average body mass index (BMI) of 39 and who were also suffering from gum disease. Half of the group underwent gastric bypass surgery and had fat cells removed from the abdomen, while the control group did not undergo surgery or have any fat removed.
Both groups were treated for their gum disease using a combination of appropriate nonsurgical periodontal treatments. These included scaling and root planing and improved daily oral hygiene routines. Although both groups showed improvement, those who had undergone surgery fared better on plaque levels, bleeding and measures for periodontal attachment. One thing which fascinated the researchers was that the glucose levels dropped in the group who underwent surgery and who had fat cells removed, as this finding could be significant for overweight people at risk of developing diabetes or insulin related problems.
Anyone who doesn’t brush their teeth at least twice a day is at increased risk of developing heart disease according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Although many studies have shown that periodontal disease is linked to the hardening of the arteries, this was the first study to investigate whether or not there was a link between the number of times a person brushes their teeth each day and their risk of developing heart disease.
This particular study looked at data collected from 11,000 adults who had taken part in the Scottish Health Survey. This study was particularly relevant to the Scottish population as the incidence of cardiovascular disease is quite high. The survey asked individuals about their lifestyle behaviours including physical activity, oral health routines and whether or not they smoked. They were also asked how frequently they visited their dentist and how often they cleaned their teeth. Additional information included their medical history, and whether or not there was a family history of heart disease and blood pressure problems.
Studies have found an association between gum disease and heart disease that cannot be explained by the common risk factors – American Heart Association
Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) distributed a press release acknowledging the link between gum disease and heart disease. In this news release, the AHA clarifies its views on the relationship between gum disease and heart disease – yes, there is a link between the two problems and more research is needed to produce evidence of an incontestable causative relationship.
Most people assume that dental research is confined to teeth and oral tissues, but a recent article in Nature proves this is far from the case. According to the article, research into oral conditions can be an indication as to overall health, especially as many of the molecules found in the blood are also found in saliva, although at much lower levels.
Saliva testing could be a much less invasive way of discovering a patient’s risk for disease, and the tests could be carried out in the dental or doctor’s office. Patients could even collect their own saliva specimens at home, and this type of sampling would be far more pleasant for older people and young children. It could prove to be very cost effective as well.
Possible links between gum disease and other serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes have already been well documented, and have raised the question as to whether improvements in oral health could help prevent or manage these conditions. DNA from oral bacteria has already been found in plaque which builds up in blood vessels and the synovial fluid of joints, leading to questions as to whether bacteria could cause heart attacks or prosthetic joint failure.
If you let dental plaque and calculus buildup on your teeth, then you may not only be increasing your risk of developing periodontal disease, but also your risk of developing cancer. A new study published in the online British Medical Journal, Open, has linked dental plaque with a risk of premature death due to cancer. The longitudinal study looked at the connection between dental plaque and cancer mortality in Sweden.
The study followed 1,400 randomly selected adults from Stockholm over a period of 24 years, from 1985 to 2009. At the beginning of the monitoring period the adults were in their 30s and 40s, and were interviewed to assess their risk of developing cancer. Factors taken into account included whether or not they were smokers, and levels of affluence. In addition, their oral hygiene was assessed to discover current levels of gum disease and tooth loss, as well as levels of dental plaque and calculus.
An in-depth review of over 50 women’s health journal articles has shown there is a link between female hormone production and gum disease. The review was led by Charlene Krejci, associate clinical professsor at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. It is called “Women’s Health: Periodontitis and its Relation to Hormonal Changes, Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes and Osteoporosis” and has been published in the journal Oral Health and Preventative Dentistry. It shows that the level of female hormones, which can fluctuate considerably over the course of a lifetime, can be responsible for changing conditions in the oral cavity which can lead to gum disease.
Krejci reviewed 61 journal articles as well as nearly 100 studies, all of which dealt with the question as to whether there was a link between gum disease and an increased level of female hormones, as well as other major health concerns such as preterm births and osteporosis. “There’s definitely a gender-specific connection between women’s hormones, gum disease, and specific health issues impacting women” said Dr. Krejci. In addition she noted that although women tend to pay much more care to their oral hygiene routine, they need to be more attentive than men in order to avoid health issues that are unique to women.
If ever a man needed more incentive to take care of his oral health then this has to be it. A new study has shown there may be a link between men suffering from severe periodontal disease and erectile dysfunction.
The population based study looked at 33,000 men suffering from erectile dysfunction, and a comparison group of 162,000 men who didn’t have this condition. They tracked both groups for five years to try to ascertain if there was a link between erectile dysfunction and periodontal disease. Even though the study took into account lifestyle factors such as pre-existing medical conditions and income, it still found erectile dysfunction was linked to gum disease, particularly in men aged over 70 or younger than 30 . In spite of these findings, the study doesn’t show that periodontal disease causes erectile dysfunction, only that the two may somehow be associated in some way.
There is already speculation as to what this link, if any exists, might be. One idea put forward by Dr Aaron Katz, chairman of the Department of Urology at Winthrop University Hospital in New York, is that erectile dysfunction may be due to inflammation in the body, and that this could have caused damage to the blood vessels in the penis. This idea does make sense as periodontitis is known to cause inflammation.
The findings of two new studies were recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida and reinforce the links between periodontal disease and the risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes.
Researchers have found that patients who had their teeth professionally cleaned and scaled at regular intervals were at a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes. The research was based on a nationwide study which took place over a seven-year period. Dr Emily Chen and Dr Hsin-Bang Leu examined data on 51,000 adults who had their teeth professionally cleaned on at least one occasion against a similar sized group who had never had their teeth professionally cleaned. Neither group had a history of heart attacks or strokes. The study showed those participants whose teeth were professionally cleaned at regular intervals had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and a 13% lower risk of stroke compared to those people who did not have their teeth professionally cleaned.