Dental Decay & Its Links With Serious Health Problems
Today we are finding more evidence to link poor dental health with the overall health of the body. The main factor of concern here is inflammation. Dentists, particularly those working in healthier alternative forms of dentistry, are beginning to take this information very seriously.
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Atrial Fibrillation & Heart Failure
Atrial fibrillation (uneven heartbeat) and heart failure (an impairment of the heart’s ability to contract and relax) are both issues associated with inflammation, which has been shown to result from excessive amounts of blood borne bacteria. The bacteria in your mouth have direct access to the bloodstream and this access is made easier when dental decay and gum disease occur.
According to a recent study in which 161,286 people from the ages of 40 to 79 participated, the findings showed that teeth brushing three or more times per day over a ten year course reduced the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Specifically, the risk of atrial fibrillation risk was reduced by 10% and the risk of heart failure risk was reduced by 12%. The participants in this study had no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure.
Hypertension has been linked with periodontal (gum) disease, a condition in which the gums become inflamed due to bacteria buildup. Periodontal disease causes excessive bleeding and the erosion of the gums, creating a direct pathway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. As bacteria enters the bloodstream and moves through the blood vessels, it can cause inflammation and negatively affect the way they function.
A meta-analysis of 81 studies spanning 26 countries has shown that:
- People with moderate to severe gum disease have a 22% higher risk of hypertension.
- People with severe gum disease have a 49% higher risk of hypertension.
There appears to be a link between periodontal disease and obesity. The obese (those having the right fat percentage, waist circumference, and body mass index to constitute obesity) may be at higher risk for developing periodontal disease. This may come down to alterations in metabolism which occur as one’s body chemistry changes. Metabolic alterations can cause inflammation based on certain studies.
To quote Andres Pinto, professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine and diagnostic sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, “Periodontal disease occurs in patients more susceptible to inflammation – who are also more susceptible to obesity.”
The field of dentistry is steadily adopting new evidence and data to its practices to promote not just the health of the teeth and surrounding structures, but the overall health of the body as well. In fact, many dentists who don’t necessarily call themselves “organic dentists” are beginning to adopt these products and techniques as they see them as superior to conventional dental methods.
The body is interconnected, and many dentists believe it isn’t enough to simply look at dental problems as isolated issues. By adopting healthier dental products and procedures, non-amalgam fillings, zirconium implants, less forceful gum cleanings – dentists hope to promote not just dental health but the health of the body as a whole.