Even decades ago, many dentists noted that their older patients who had extremely healthy and younger look gums were also in great physical health for their age. Now we know, based on research and not just anecdotal evidence, that oral health is systemic. This means that a person’s oral health is reflective of their overall health. The research shows there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and other health issues, such as diabetes, pre-term births, low birth weights, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Periodontal disease is generally affiliated with poor oral care, loose teeth, abscessed teeth or gums, and deep pockets of infection within the gum or bone tissue. Other than surmising that a person who doesn’t take care of their mouth with quality and routine dental care may be less likely to care for their general health at all, there previously was no link between oral and general health. Pathogens are the missing link between oral and total body health.
Pathogens are responsible for most periodontal diseases. But pathogens also contribute to other health issues.
- Up to one-half of all heart attacks are caused by oral pathogens
- The oral bacterium p. gingivalis is carried by white blood cells
- Alzheimer’s has been linked to six different oral spirochetes
- P. gingivalis will increase the risk of a heart attack over 13 times when present, which is twice the risk that a heavy smoker faces
Additionally, periodontal disease can be as much to blame for the occurrence of strokes as high blood pressure. When visual and microbial periodontal disease is dealt with, CIMT progression is slowed, and in some cases, it is reversed altogether.
Barbara L. McClatchie, DDS has received professional training through the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health. She uses OralDNA saliva testing to find and reduce the risk of several different diseases in her patients.
It is important to note that the research is revealing that periodontal diseases do not cause other health problems. It is simply that the same pathogens that cause periodontal disease to occur also contribute to the other health issues. This is the reason why people who have poor oral health are also likely to have poor overall health or other systemic diseases.