When it comes to Highlands Ranch family dental care, our team at Aloha Dental remains committed to providing our patients with the quality service they need to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime. After all, your oral health is more than just your smile.
Research has found surprising connections between our oral health and a variety of long-term health problems that can seriously undermine our quality of life. When Dr. Isaacs instructs patients on the value of brushing, flossing, and scheduling regular exams and cleanings, she does so with the goal of helping every patient live a better, happier life.
Let’s take a look at a few of the chronic health problems most closely linked to oral health.
Currently, heart disease ranks as the leading cause of death in the U.S. Perhaps not so coincidently, approximately 80 percent of the adults in the U.S. have some form of gum disease.
While gum health and heart health may seem completely unconnected, the American Heart Association now recognizes gum disease as a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
So, how does what happens to our gums affect our heart health? Well, during early stage gum disease, commonly referred to as gingivitis, gum tissue becomes inflamed. This inflammation makes gum tissue susceptible to tearing, which is why patients with unhealthy gum tissue often see blood after brushing or flossing.
Researchers believe that the harmful oral bacteria that causes the development of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through these cuts in gum tissue. Once in the bloodstream, oral plaque can travel to the heart and begin to accumulate in the valves and arteries. This accumulation of oral plaque combines with arterial plaque to clog arteries and cause heart attacks.
If this seems fantastical, researchers have found evidence of oral plaque in the hearts of patients with severe heart disease.
New research now suggests that tooth loss may predict not only the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but also its severity. The more teeth a patient has lost, the higher their risk for RA becomes, according to researchers.
For decades, doctors and dentists have noticed a correlation between tooth loss and RA. However, the common belief was that patients with RA simply had a more difficult time properly brushing and flossing, thereby increasing their risk for tooth loss.
Today, researchers now understand that tooth loss actually acts as a precursor to RA, not as a symptom of the disease. Researchers who study the connection between RA and gum disease have discovered a similarity between oral and joint tissue, as well as in the inflammatory process that affects them.
Research has also shown a genetic link between the two diseases. In one study, researchers found HLA-DR4, a certain genetic type that frequently occurs in patients with RA, in eight out of 10 patients with severe gum disease. This same genetic marker was only found in a third of people who were part of the study’s healthy control group.
Perhaps no disease better encapsulates this mouth/body connection than the relationship between gum disease and diabetes.
Gum disease ranks as the most common oral health problem for patients living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22 percent. The older patients with diabetes become, the more difficult it is for them to control their blood sugar. In fact, all patients with diabetes have a higher risk of gum disease due to poor blood sugar control. When infection sets into the gums, it then becomes harder for patients to control their blood sugar levels. This in turn makes diabetes more difficult to control because patients become more susceptible to infections and are less capable of fighting off the bacteria that causes gum disease.
This type of circular impact one disease has on the other, uncontrolled blood sugar increases the risk for gum disease; gum disease increasing the risk for uncontrolled blood sugar perfectly illustrates the cause and effect relationship our oral health and overall health.
Highlands Ranch Family Dental Care Matters
Protecting your oral health, and by extension, your overall health requires making the health of your teeth and gums a top priority.
In addition to brushing twice a day and flossing daily, quality oral health requires undergoing regular exams by Dr. Isaac, and twice-annual cleanings from our team of gentle dental hygienists.
Your oral health matters too much to ignore. Contact our office today to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with the team at Aloha Dental.