Problems in Your Mouth Can Lead to Illness in Your Body
By Dr. Anasinski

There was a time that an infection in your tooth or gums was looked at as simply that—an infection in your mouth. Now we know better. Research has proven that any time there is an infection in any part of the body, proteins called C-Reactive Proteins (CRP) are created. CRP then produces an irritation to the walls of your blood vessels that can ultimately lead to narrowing of the arteries which can result in cardiovascular disease, a heart attack or a stroke. Because severe periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is an infection, when left untreated it results in CRP, and patients with “severe periodontitis have been shown to be twice as likely to have a fatal heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke” as patients who do not have  advanced gum disease.

And the heart isn’t the only area of the body that can be adversely affected by periodontitis. Diabetes, pregnancy problems, low birth-weight babies and even repeated infections associated with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) have been shown to have a correlation to infections in the mouth. In fact, The Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported (in its January 2007 edition) that the results of a study showed “a relationship between pancreatic cancer and periodontal disease.”

This information should be taken seriously because studies also show that “over eighty percent of people over the age of thirty-five living in North America are afflicted with some type of gum disease.” Yet most people are unaware of the issue because periodontal disease generally does not show any symptoms until it has advanced to an infected, destructive stage. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see us as soon as possible:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose or separated teeth
  • Pain when you chew
  • Teeth that fit together differently when you try to bite or chew
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are tender and swollen
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Pus between your teeth and gums

Prevention, of course, is the best approach for staying healthy, and the best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good daily oral hygiene habits of brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once. It is also imperative that you visit us at least twice a year, or more often if you are more prone to the condition, so that the disease can be prevented or stopped in its tracks if it does get started.

Risk factors that can increase your probability of contracting gum disease are: poor dental hygiene, smoking, health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis, along with certain medications.  And, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, 30 percent of the population has a predisposition to gum disease. Since the impact of gum disease goes way beyond your mouth, paying attention to your oral health should be a high priority.