Visiting a dentist for twice yearly cleanings and examinations is important in more ways than you might think. Not only is this the best way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, but studies find that poor oral hygiene is linked to other health issues. Do you really want to risk your life by avoiding the dentist?
In 2007, the Harvard School of Public Health partnered with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and did a study on periodontal disease and cancer. One of the more surprising findings was that there is a strong link between poor oral health and pancreatic cancer. Of the 216 confirmed cases of pancreatic cancer, 67 percent of those people also had periodontal disease. The research found that people with poor oral health had higher levels of serums linked to systemic inflammation. It’s believed that this inflammation promotes the growth of cancerous cells within the pancreas.
S. Mutans is the bacterium that causes tooth decay. It lives within plaque and from there the bacteria multiply. Typically, the bacteria remain in the mouth, but during dental procedures some can escape. If they reach the heart, particularly a heart with some form of defect, the bacteria can inflame the heart’s valves and lining, leading to endocarditis, a serious medical condition that can lead to heart damage or stroke. Anyone at risk for endocarditis must take antibiotics prior to any dental procedure.
In 1997, the American Dental Association released an article in its journal regarding the link between tooth decay and dementia. In the study, researchers found people who lost teeth due to decay prior to their 35th birthday were more likely to develop dementia.
Periodontal disease is a problem in people diagnosed with diabetes, because their body has a hard time fighting the infection. In addition, experts feel that periodontal disease also makes it harder for the body to regulate blood sugar levels in non-diabetic patients. People with no prior signs of diabetes suddenly have high blood sugar levels, and people previously diagnosed with diabetes struggle to lower their blood sugar levels.
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology studied the average length of time it took a panel of women to conceive. The women who had gum disease took two months longer to conceive than women with healthy teeth and gums. The researchers believe that the inflammation linked with gum disease may be to blame.
The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology released a study regarding early labor in pregnant women diagnosed with gum disease. A number of the participants were given an alcohol-free mouth rinse designed to kill the bacteria linked to gum disease, the other group were told to follow their usual procedures. Of the women given the mouth rinse, 25 percent saw a decreased risk in premature labor and delivery.
People with unhealthy mouths risk the chance of breathing in the bacteria from the mouth. If any of the bacteria are aspirated into the airway and reach the lungs, pneumonia and infection can set in.
Don’t risk your health by avoiding regular cleanings or oral procedures. If fear keeps you from visiting a dentist, learn about the benefits of sedation dentistry. Dr. Gallardo and Dr. Lamas provide periodontics and implant dentistry in Miami, Florida. To schedule an appointment with their office, call (305) 447-1447 or you may do so filling out the online request form.