The condition of our mouth and oral hygiene is closely linked to our overall health.
Please find out how oral health is linked to diabetes & heart disease.
Taking care of our teeth is not only about having a good smile and pleasant breath. Recent research has found a number of links between oral health and our overall health. While in many cases, the nature of this link still isn't clear — researchers have yet to conclude whether the connections are causal or correlative — what is certain is that the condition of our mouth is closely linked to our overall physical health.
- Oral Health and its link to Diabetes
We, Doctors have analysed and found that people with periodontitis or gum disease, in general, also have type 2 diabetes.
In July 2008 the connection was further highlighted
"We found that people who had higher levels of periodontal disease had a twofold risk of developing type 2 diabetes over that time period compared to people with low levels or no gum disease," explains Ryan Demmer, PhD, associate researcher at the department of epidemiology at the Mailman School and the lead author.
There is certainly requirement of more research before doctors can conclude that gum disease might lead to diabetes. There are certain theories : One proposes that bad infection in mouth and specially gums might lead to low-grade infection in our whole body and might disrupts our sugar processing abilities. "There are all kinds of inflammatory molecules," says Dr. Demmer, "and it's believed that maybe some attach to insulin receptors and prevent the body's cells from using the insulin to get glucose into the cell."
- Oral Health and its link to Heart Disease
Similarly to diabetes, gum disease and bad oral health is closely linked to cardiovascular conditions and in general both of them are found often together, but still more research is required to have a definitive relationship between them - One of the most general reasons is, effect of smoking and old age, that may lead to both gum disease and heart disease.
However, in a 2005 study funded by the NIH, 1,056 randomly selected participants with no prior heart attacks or strokes were evaluated for levels of periodontal bacteria: After removing the effects of the other risk factors of age, gender, and smoking, it was found that there was an independent relationship between gum disease and heart disease, says Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School and lead author of the study. One theory about why this may occur, says Dr. Desvarieux, is that small amounts of bacteria enter our bloodstream while you're chewing. "Bad" bacteria from an infected mouth may lodge itself inside blood vessels, ultimately causing dangerous blockages. Strengthening his theory is the fact that when scientists have looked at atherosclerotic blood vessels, they have sometimes found fragments of periodontal bacteria. Meanwhile, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 established that aggressive treatment of gum disease reduces the incidence of atherosclerosis within six months.
While in many cases, the nature of this link still isn't clear — researchers have yet to conclude whether the connections are causal or correlative — what is certain is that the condition of our mouth is closely linked to our overall physical health.
- Results from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and its Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Diabetes Care 31(7) 1373-9 2008
- The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST). Circulation 111 576-582 2005