Denver, CO– Did you know that if you suffer from gum disease, you might actually be at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease, too?
Gum disease is linked to a host of other issues, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease and even premature birth. Last August, a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that treating gum disease is actually good for your overall health.
The study examined the health and dental records for 339,000 people. Every person they looked at had both gum disease and one of the following: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis or were pregnant.
In the study, it was determined that for patients who had at least one periodontal disease treatment, their medical costs were lower and they experienced fewer hospitalizations.
The cost savings were most significant for pregnant women, who, through their periodontal treatment, were able to avoid the complications and costs associated with premature birth. Patient who suffer from cardiovascular disease and diabetes who treated their periodontitis had healthcare costs lowered between 20 and 40 percent.
Overall, the study showed lower medical costs and fewer hospitalizations in the time period following periodontal treatment in four of the five conditions looked at. The researchers deemed their findings to be both statistically important and substantial, as they saw costs lowered between 11 and 74 percent overall.
While the exact links between gum disease and other health issues hasn’t been completely agreed upon, researchers do know that the link is in the inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to an infection or injury. These inflammatory substances can build up in the blood, and worsen the symptoms of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. By eliminating the infection, your periodontist can actually damped the effects throughout the rest of your body.
If you suffer from any of the following, it may be a sign you have periodontal disease:
- Swollen, red or tender gums
- Gums that seem to bleed easily
- Gums that pull away from the teeth, forming pockets
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way dental appliances fit in your mouth.
One thing is clear – the evidence continues to mount showing the link between oral health and general health. This can help dentists and other physicians work together to ensure the best health for their patients. Some physicians, recognizing this link, may start considering the assessment and treatment of periodontal disease to be part of their management of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. And in fact the researchers recommend that periodontal disease treatment be considered part of the preventative care treatment for chronic conditions.
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