Today we are seeing studies that reveal the link between obesity and periodontal disease (also commonly called “gum disease”), and that link is inflammation.
While this link is not a straightforward cause-and-effect situation, inflammation is a common factor in both conditions. Those with the body fat percentage, waist circumference, and body mass index to constitute obesity run a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.
Studies have shown how changes in body chemistry alter metabolism and how this alteration causes inflammation.
“Periodontal disease occurs in patients more susceptible to inflammation – who are also more susceptible to obesity,” says Andres Pinto, professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine and diagnostic sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
Andrews Pinto believes that this growing body of information can inform treatment plans for those with obesity, gum disease, or both. That said, Pinto also notes that more information is required before mainstream health-care treatments are altered. The evidence we do have gives us reason to suspect that treating one issue can positively affect the other, but for the time being, medical professionals still require more information.
Research has shown a correlation between poor dental hygiene and higher rates of bacteria in the bloodstream. This excessive amount of bloodborne bacteria can cause inflammation, another common factor in atrial fibrillation (uneven heartbeat) and heart failure (an impairment of the heart’s ability to contract and relax).
According to a recent study involving 161,286 people between the ages of 40 and 79 (none of whom had any atrial fibrillation or heart failure history) showed that brushing teeth 3+ times per day yielded a reduction in atrial fibrillation risk by 10% and a reduction in heart failure risk by 12% over the course of 10.5 years.
Consider that bacteria living in the subgingival biofilm (the area between the gums and the teeth) has easy access to the bloodstream. Brushing this bacteria out of the subgingival biofilm helps keep it out of the bloodstream and thus lowers the risk of inflammation due to bloodborne bacteria.
However, it should be kept in mind that correlation doesn’t equal causation. That said, with such a large group of people studied over such a long period of time, there is reason to suspect a strong link between the bacteria arising from poor dental hygiene and an increased risk of both atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
A recent article on Science Daily quotes senior author Professor Francesco D’Aiuto of UCL Eastman Dental Institute, UK, as saying, “We observed a linear association – the more severe periodontitis is, the higher the probability of hypertension. The findings suggest that patients with gum disease should be informed of their risk and given advice on lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure such as exercise and a healthy diet.”
Like most links between poor dental hygiene and serious health issues, the link between periodontal disease and hypertension isn’t straightforward cause-and-effect (as far as we currently know). However, plenty of studies and evidence are showing strong correlation.
A recent study examined the chances of high blood pressure in those with gum disease that was moderate to severe. In fact, this study gathered information from a total of 81 studies across 26 different countries. Here are the findings:
As with the two conditions covered prior to this one, the reason for the correlation appears to be inflammation. As oral bacteria makes its way into the bloodstream, it can cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation negatively affects the function of blood vessels.
Of course, the role of genes can’t be ruled out. Some people are naturally more prone to inflammation-related illnesses than others.
We’ve treated plenty of patients with periodontal disease at our Rigby dental clinic. Over the years, we’ve seen some common factors that correlate with those suffering with this disease:
Early stages of periodontal disease respond well to home treatment. The early stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which can be treated and reversed with improved dental hygiene and diet. Of course, coming into our Rigby dental clinic for a professional dental cleaning is also very important.
However, if left to progress, gingivitis can easily turn into full-on periodontitis, which is far more difficult to treat and sometimes impossible to reverse. Periodontitis usually includes:
At our Rigby dental clinic we offer various non-surgical treatment plans for periodontitis, including scaling and root planing to help remove bacteria and toxins. Host modulation is another option, which alters the bacterial host properties and makes your mouth less hospitable to certain bacteria and toxins.
If you are suffering from gingivitis, don’t wait for things to get worse. Gingivitis is far easier to treat than periodontitis. If you’re noticing symptoms, be sure to contact us today!