The effects of gum disease can have far greater reach than the mouth. It has been established by numerous research studies spread over several decades that there is a significant relationship to major systemic diseases, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. These relationships have been most often established between periodontitis and the above mentioned, systemic diseases.
Periodontitis is the more devastating of periodontal diseases that destroys the bony support of teeth, causing them to loosen and eventually be lost. Periodontitis has a little brother called gingivitis. Gingivitis is much more prevalent (estimated 80-90% of the population) and even within the Dental Profession was thought to be relatively innocuous because it does not cause bone loss or endanger teeth directly. However some new studies are beginning to appear in the literature that indicate there is a least some relationship between some of the bacteria associated with gingivitis, and other disease entities. Most notable are the toxins excreted from Porphyromonas Gingivalis. These toxins have been found in the post mortem examination of brain tissue from humans that had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. By studying these toxins in mice, scientists have determined that the toxins can, and do travel from the mouth to the brain. These same toxins have been connected with Rheumatoid Arthritis and aspiration pneumonia. These studies have been reported in papers published by the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.
“Oral hygiene is very important throughout our life, not only for having a beautiful smile but also to decrease the risk of many serious diseases,” said Jan Potempa, PHD, DSC a professor at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and head of the Department of Microbiology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. “People with genetic risk factors that make them susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease should be extremely concerned with preventing gum disease.”
The existence of a genetic link to major disease entities has been established for some time. As the genetic code is being deciphered, the precise relationships are being better understood in efforts to improve both diagnostics and treatment options. The reasons are mounting for keeping your mouth healthy!