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Oral Health: Insights Into Your Overall Health

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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.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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