Oral Health: Insights Into Your Overall Health
Diabetes and Gum Disease: A Two-Way Street continued...
Studies show that people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease, especially if their diabetes is not well controlled. So can treating gum disease make it easier to manage diabetes? A 2010 review in Evidence Based Dentistry found that people with diabetes who were treated for periodontal disease could more easily control their diabetes.
"People with diabetes have to brush scrupulously and keep everything totally clean," says Kinane. Anything a person with diabetes can do to reduce inflammation in the body will make it easier to manage the disease, he adds.
Periodontal Disease Can Lead to Preterm Labor
Most pregnant women understand that smoking, drinking, and certain health conditions such as high blood pressure increase the risk for preterm labor, or being born early. But keeping your teeth and gums healthy also may help protect the health of your unborn baby. Just being pregnant increases the risk for gum disease because of hormonal changes. And several studies have shown that gum disease increases the risk for low birth weight and preterm labor. A 2011 review in the International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare found that treating periodontal disease may lower the risk for low-birth-weight babies and preterm labor. So if you have gum disease and you are pregnant, be sure to see your dentist.
Other Possible Oral Health Connections
Researchers continue to look for connections between diseases of the body and periodontal disease. Although certain links aren't as well established, there are some interesting developments and areas for further study.
Oral health and lung disease. Studies have found an association between gum disease and certain types of pneumonia, possibly from breathing in bacteria from the mouth. In fact, several studies have found that improving oral health can decrease the risk for pneumonia in nursing home and hospitalized patients. A 2008 study in Respiratory Medicine also found an association between peritonitis and COPD, which also share similar risk factors such as smoking.
Oral health and osteoporosis. Periodontal disease causes bone loss that can lead to tooth loss. So, scientists theorize that having both osteoporosis and periodontal disease may lead to more rapid bone loss than osteoporosis alone would cause. While researchers believe there is a link, studies haven't yet confirmed it.
Gum disease and arthritis. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Periodontology looked at 109 people and found that those with rheumatoid arthritis were eight times more likely to have periodontal disease. There isn't an identified cause and effect relationship between gum disease and arthritis. But researchers believe there is a connection between the two diseases because they are both inflammatory disorders.