The Mouth-Body Connection

Many people underestimate how important your mouth is to your overall health. Care and attention to oral health will benefit more than just your teeth and gums; it will help maintain your body as a whole.

Recent studies have shown a correlation between periodontal disease and systematic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. If an infection in your mouth goes untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and evolve into serious conditions.

The experienced team at Grande Prairie’s Higson Dental Group is here to give you and your mouth the best dental care possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to book an appointment. We’re always happy to welcome new patients.

  • Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
  • Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
  • Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
  • Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease
  • Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Diabetes is classified as an incurable condition where the body cannot produce insulin (Type I Diabetes), or it cannot use the insulin it does produce (Type II Diabetes). In simple terms, the blood has too much glucose (sugar). Not only does this cause a host of symptoms, it can also lead to other chronic problems like heart disease and stroke.

Diabetes has become a common disease affecting an estimated 2.7 million Canadians—a number that is growing every year. There also seems to be a correlation between diabetes and periodontal disease.

There are many reasons why the diseases relate to one another. Diabetes slows down the body’s circulation, which allows bacteria to settle. It also lowers the body’s ability to fight infections, which increases the chances of developing forms of gum disease.

Heightened cases of periodontal disease cause an increase in the body’s sugar levels. For a diabetic who needs to control their sugar levels at all times, this is a very serious concern. It also increases the amount of sugar in a person’s saliva, which will encourage the bad bacteria growth that causes tooth decay.

Another predicament is that diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken thereby affecting their natural process of absorbing good nutrients and eliminating harmful waste from the body. Without this important function, damaging substances are left in the mouth, which can erode gums and cause infection.

As discussed in the Periodontal Disease and Tobacco section smoking and tobacco use is a harmful habit to anyone’s health and wellbeing as a whole but even more dangerous to someone with diabetes. In addition to a whole host of other issues, diabetics over the age of 45 are 20 times more likely to get periodontal disease than a non-smoker.

People with diabetes are encouraged to take extra care of their oral health, including daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist. Our team at Higson Dental Group can assist with any concerns you may have. Call us for more information.

Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

An estimated 1.6 million Canadians suffer from coronary heart disease, and it is the second leading cause of death in the country. Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty proteins and plaque collect along the walls of your arteries, narrowing the passages and restricting regular blood flow. When this happens, adequate oxygen isn’t reaching the heart and can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and possibly a heart attack.

Periodontal disease and coronary heart disease go hand in hand. Compared to people who maintain healthy mouths, people with chronic oral diseases are almost twice as likely to develop heart conditions and these dental diseases intensify their ailment. Furthermore, these patients are also more prone to a stroke, which is when blood flow to the brain halts suddenly, often because of a blood clot.

There are various reasons why these diseases are linked. In some cases, certain strands of periodontal bacteria enter the bloodstream and attaches to plaque in the coronary arteries. Once the bacteria attaches, it can cause a clot to form and increase the chances heart problems including a heart attack.

Another issue is occurs when periodontal disease causes inflammation in the mouth, which in turn leads to an increase in white blood cells’ C-reactive proteins (CRP), proteins that are directly linked with heart disease. When CRP increases, the body naturally responds by swelling, which can allow harmful bacteria from the mouth to reach the bloodstream. This then causes the liver to generate CRP, which can progress into blood clots and/or inflamed arteries. Both conditions can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Routine and proactive oral hygiene is so important to help control periodontal disease and possibly prevent it from leading to these very dangerous conditions. If you have any concerns or questions, our team at Higson Dental Group can help you find the answers you need.

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Expectant mothers need to take extra precautions with their oral care to help ensure the health and safety of their unborn child. Natural hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can make women more prone to gingivitis and periodontal disease—conditions that can cause preeclampsia, low birth weight of the baby or premature birth.

There are many reasons why periodontal disease complicates pregnancies. For one, pregnant women with advanced periodontal disease or periodontitis experience an increase in prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a compound found in oral bacteria that can actually trigger labour prematurely or cause the mother to deliver a baby with low birth weight.

Another reason is the C-reactive protein (CRP) connected to heart disease, which can also lead to premature delivery and low birth rate. CRP levels rise when suffering from periodontal disease, and the body responds with a natural inflammation. If bacteria from periodontal disease reach the blood stream, the liver will create more CRP. This can lead to blood clots and/or inflammation of arteries that can cause blockages and result in heart attack or strokes. Also, recent studies have shown that high levels of CRP can also cause preeclampsia.

Lastly, when harmful bacteria takes over a mouth, the infection can enter the blood stream and spread issues to other parts of the body. In some proven cases this bacterium has surfaced in pregnant women’s internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.

The good news is proper care and attention to oral health and treatment of existing problems can help reduce periodontal-disease related complications by up to 50%!

Our team at Higson Dental Group is dedicated to the health of you and your unborn child. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, we can help assess your overall oral health, develop appropriate treatment plans and create an effective home care regime to take care of you and your baby.

Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease

There is a direct correlation between periodontal disease and respiratory conditions. People suffering from respiratory diseases have issues related to the breathing system whereby fine droplets that contain germs enter through the mouth or throat and into the lungs. These microscopic germs make it very challenging to breathe easily. Bacteria connected to periodontal disease can enter the lower respiratory tract and cause lung infections or irritate pre-existing conditions.

Periodontal disease is linked to contracting respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema because harmful bacteria that will develop in the mouth can move into the lungs and cause infections. Smokers also are more prone to developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that blocks airways and gets even worse if they also have periodontal disease.

Generally speaking, people who are suffering from respiratory conditions have a weakened immune system, making it much easier for bacteria to grow and thrive inside a compromised mouth. With lowered immunity, your body’s natural fight against the harmful bacteria is compromised, and once periodontal disease is contracted it can make the respiratory issue worse.

If you are experiencing respiratory issues and/or periodontal disease, our team at Higson Dental Group will work with your physician to come up with the best treatment plan for both your conditions and try to stop any bigger issues from occurring.

Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Many of our elderly patients are living with Osteoporosis. This is the chronic weakening of bone tissue and loss of bone density when the body is unable to grow new bone, or when it absorbs too much old bone. As a result, patients are at risk for bone fractures. Osteoporosis is prominent in older women, mainly because of lowered estrogen levels after menopause. For men, it’s due to a drop in their testosterone.

Periodontal disease also affects bones in the mouth and can lead to severe bone loss in the jaws, so the two diseases have a natural link. Studies on this correlation show that women with harmful oral bacteria were at higher risk for bone loss in their jaw, which can lead to tooth loss. A decade’s worth of research further proved that post-menopausal women are 86% more likely to develop periodontal disease, and those who have osteoporosis could help prevent tooth loss with proper management of periodontal disease.

Estrogen plays a key role in these diseases. Estrogen deficiency accelerates the rate of bone loss, including oral bones. It also can rapidly impair the important mouth fibers and tissues that hold teeth in place, and when fibers are destroyed, teeth are more easily lost.

Another cause of osteoporosis is low mineral bone density. When the mouth is inflamed by periodontal disease, it can lead to weakened and broken-down bones. This is a devastating factor to patients who are already susceptible to these conditions.

If you are living with or diagnosed with osteoporosis, please discuss your options with our team at Higson Dental Group. We can help you with a preventative treatment plan and home regime to help protect your teeth and oral bones.