Periodontal Disease May Affect More Than Just the Gums

It turns out that brushing and flossing your teeth and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can do more than save your teeth; it can also save your life.

According to Sally Cram, DDS, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, “There are a lot of studies that suggest that oral health, and gum disease in particular, are related to serious conditions like heart disease.”

The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Systemic/Heart Health

Dental experts have long speculated that periodontal disease, or gum disease, the condition that can lead to receding gums, tooth and bone loss, can affect the body in other ways; and dental experts have long stressed that caring for the mouth is the key to caring for the rest of the body. Now it turns out that gum disease may cause a hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease and/or stroke.

Cram stresses that everyone should make an effort to prevent oral health problems, whether there is a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease or not. However, for those people who are at higher risk of developing heart disease, perhaps they should be extra vigilant at preventing gum and mouth problems just to be on the safe side.

Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s Link Discovered

Caring for your teeth, mouth and gums may not only protect the heart, it could also protect your brain. According to a recent study by New York University, periodontal disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was conducted over a period of twenty years and found that those who participated in the study and who reached the age of 70 with gum disease were 9 times more likely to test in the lower levels of cognitive function compared to those with little to no gum disease or inflammation.

While these studies don’t necessarily prove that periodontal disease causes Alzheimer’s, the fact that periodontal pathogens appear in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers is need for further study.

You can be vigilant in your fight against heart disease and Alzheimer’s by dropping a few pounds, throwing away the cigarettes and cutting down on the drinking. And it turns out that you may be able to prevent both by brushing, flossing and by visiting your Anchorage dentist on a regular basis.


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