You’ve heard it from your dentist your entire life. You saw it in commercials during your favorite television shows. Your parents probably drilled it into your head from an early age. Brushing and flossing gives you a beautiful and healthy smile. In addition to that beautiful smile, it prevents oral diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease. But believe it or not, proper oral care can also prevent a number of other diseases that have documented connections to your oral health.
During a study that lasted from 1986 to 2007, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals with a history of gum disease were 64 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to those that never had any gum disease. The study was conducted on over 51,000 men over the nearly 20 year span found that individuals with who had periodontitis were at higher risk for pancreatic cancer. While gingivitis, another form of gum disease, did not have a correlation with pancreatic cancer, it is known that gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.
The study went one step further and found that men who recently lost a tooth were at even greater risk. Tooth loss can be caused by periodontitis and is considered a symptom of the gum disease. A follow up study in 2012 from the same team found that there was no clear causal connection, but the two were certainly linked.
In a 2008 report formed by joint teams at Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland and the University of Bristol in the UK, a h3 correlation was found between bleeding gums from poor dental health and heart disease. Researchers concluded that any of the 700 different types of bacteria from the mouth could bond to the platelets within the blood, forming blood clots that could trigger a heart attack.
Researchers specifically found that Streptoccus gordonii and Streptoccus sanguinis were common infecting agents and these bacterial infections put individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease. According to the CDC, roughly 610,000 people die of heart disease each year in the United States alone, with Caucasian males being the most prone to the disease.
In 2010, a group of researchers at New York University reviewed data collected on 152 subjects from 1964 to 1984, at which point the subjects were all over the age of 70. The study compared cognitive function on the subjects at 50 years of age and 70 years of age and found significantly lower scores for those with gum disease.
A 2013 study from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, built upon the original study by comparing brain samples of 10 living patients with Alzheimer’s disease to 10 brain samples of those who did not have the disease. The results found a bacterium – Porphyromonas gingivalis – only in the patients with the disease. The bacterium is usually associated with chronic gum disease. The bacterium was transferred into the blood stream every time an individual cleaned their mouth or ate food. When it reached the brain, it caused damage to the functional neurons in the area of the brain responsible for memory.
To combat gum disease and decrease your risk of these diseases, utilize proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth for two minutes followed by flossing twice per day or after meals. Routine dental cleanings with Dr. Mary Lewis can ensure proper care and will allow Dr. Lewis to address concerns at their onset before they become monumental problems.
Schedule your preventative care exam with Dr. Mary Lewis of Virginia Beach dentistry today. Her friendly staff is available to assist you at (757) 631-9200.