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Posted on: June 17, 2011
Oral Systemic Health Connection
Three out of every four Americans have signs of mild periodontal disease or gingivitis. Almost 30% show signs of the more severe disease, chronic periodontitis. Recent scientific literature suggests a strong relationship between oral disease and other systemic diseases and medical conditions. There are three ways oral disease may affect your overall health. First, bacteria from your gums enter the saliva. From the saliva it may adhere to water droplets within the air you inhale each time you breathe. These bacteria laden water droplets may be aspirated into the lungs, potentially causing pulmonary infection and pneumonia. This can be very troublesome for the elderly or those who may suffer from generalized weakened immunity, associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Inflammatory mediators found in inflamed gums called “cytokines” can also enter your saliva. As they too are aspirated into the lungs, they have pro-inflammatory effects on the lower airway, which can contribute to further pulmonary complications. Secondly, bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the body’s circulatory system through the gums (periodontium) around teeth and travel to all parts of the body. As the oral bacteria travels, it may cause secondary infections or it may contribute to the disease process in other tissues and organ systems. Finally, inflammation associated with periodontal disease may stimulate a second systemic inflammatory response within the body and contribute to or complicate other disease entities that may have an inflammatory origin such as, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, orthopedic implant failure and kidney disease. Whatever the route oral bacterial may influence, it is in every patient’s best interest to maintain their mouth in an optimum state of health. If you have any concern about your dental or gum health, which we know affects your overall health, contact us for an evaluation and get on track to optimal health!