More and more evidence of a definite link between periodontal disease and systemic disease is accumulating. Here is the latest in a growing body of evidence.
You better start taking your oral health seriously because the trouble in your mouth could be a subtle indicator of something as grave as diabetes or even heart attack.
City doctors revealed many such facts on the occasion of World Oral Health Day on Monday. Other than diabetes and heart disorders, they said mouth-related diseases could also be symptoms of hypertension, breathing problems, weakening of bones and even hint at a probable miscarriage in pregnant women.
“Several studies have been done in the west in this regard. Women with poor gum hygiene are more likely to have miscarriages,” said Dr Achuth Baliga, head of the department of dental sciences in Manipal Hospital.
He said pregnant women with gum diseases are seven times more likely to have a baby that is born prematurely or underweight. He added that these women’s babies might be born with physical anomalies.
“The circulating bacteria from the mouth can harm the foetus,” he explained.
There is more that poor health of gums suggests. Dr CD Dwarakanath, director of postgraduate studies and head of the department of periodontics (a field of specialisation in dentistry) at Oxford Dental College and Hospital, said gum diseases might lead to heart attack.
He said in people suffering from periodontitis (a gum disease), the bacteria might enter the bloodstream while chewing or brushing and the bacteria could contribute to formation of clots in the arteries, thereby causing heart attack.
He said research had shown that people with gum diseases are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease when compared with people with healthy gums.
Unhealthy gums have more warning about an unhealthy heart.
Dr Baliga said tooth decay and gum disease for a long time could lead to inflammation of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and heart valves.
He said it could start with fever, anaemia and lead to formation of a blood clot.
Oral health has a connection with diabetes too. Dr Dwarakanath said gum disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. Diabetics are prone to have periodontal disease if their condition is not under control, he added.
Osteoporosis—characterised by weak bones, decrease in the bone density—is another complication that is reflected in poor oral health.
Dr Dwarakanath said loose teeth, severe gum disease and even difficulty in eating and speaking could be a sign of decreasing bone density, an advanced stage of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis’s symptoms often go unnoticed until a major fracture occurs.
However, your dentist may be able to detect the early signs of osteoporosis during a regular dental exam.
Studies show that the top oral health complaints in India comprise tooth decay, gum problems and bad breath. The oral health experts say a lot of people suffer from such complaints without being aware of it, letting the complication affect their quality of life.
Published: Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011, 12:34 IST
By Soumita Majumdar | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA