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Low birth weight and premature babies

Most women are aware that smoking, drinking, and drug use have negative effects on pregnancy.

Something that many women may not be aware of is the effect that having gum disease has on pregnant women.

There are studies that show pregnant women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to pre-term and low birth weight babies when they have gum disease.

It is important for more research to be done regarding this correlation, but one thing is for sure…

Any active infection in pregnant women should be avoided at all costs; gum disease is a living, breathing infection in your mouth. Get it treated.

Studies by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry revealed that women with gum (periodontal) disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a pre-term, low birth weight baby. Compare that with the effects of alcohol and smoking, which are said to increase the odds of a low birth weight baby by only three times.

Gum Disease and Moms-to-be

How can your gums affect the weight of the fetus? It has to do with the fact that periodontal disease causes bacterial infections. Pregnant women should avoid any situation where they can obtain an infection, knowing that there may be repercussions on their health or that of the unborn baby. It is becoming clear that an infection of gum tissues is no exception.

Women who have experienced problems with their oral health are most likely to experience gingivitis (the earliest form of gum disease) during pregnancy. Even tissues in the mouth undergo changes during pregnancy. Gingivitis usually appears in the second or third month and can last all the way through the eighth month of pregnancy. If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, this could indicate that you have gingivitis.

If a Dental Professional does not treat these red and swollen gums, the condition can deteriorate to periodontal disease, which can attack the gums and bone surrounding the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss. The natural space between your teeth and gums becomes infected. Pockets can form where bacteria thrive. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill believe that toxins are then released into the bloodstream, and the body reacts by producing chemicals that cause premature labor.

Will I know if I have gum disease?

You may not normally experience pain with gingivitis or periodontal disease, but there are other symptoms:

1) red, swollen, or tender gums
2) bleeding gums when you brush or floss
3) gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
4) loose teeth
5) a change in your bite
6) pus between teeth and gums
7) persistent bad breath

More research is underway to determine how pregnant women with periodontal disease should be treated. For now, we suggest having your oral health checked before you consider pregnancy or as soon as possible after you know you are pregnant.

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Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a major concern for many older men and women. It’s estimated that more than 40 million people either already suffer from the disease or are at risk for developing it. Recent research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. When bone loss in the jaw occurs, teeth that are usually supported and anchored by the jawbone may become loose; tooth loss may occur.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Normal human bone looks like a honeycomb, but bones affected by osteoporosis have holes and spaces that are much bigger. This means the bones have lost density or mass. As bones become less dense, they become weaker and more brittle making the simplest chores like picking up a newspaper potentially hazardous. Something like picking up a child or even sneezing could cause a break.

Bones are living tissue and are constantly being absorbed and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the body cannot create new bone quickly enough to keep up with the removal of old bone. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the human body, including the jawbone. It can occur in men and women, but it most often occurs in Caucasian women over the age of 65.

How does Osteoporosis Affect my Oral Health?

Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease. Because osteoporosis can occur in any bone in the body, the jawbone is susceptible to the disease. Low bone density in the jaw can result in loose teeth and tooth loss. Women who have osteoporosis may have trouble with loose or ill-fitting dentures as the bone is absorbed but not replaced over time.

Women with periodontal disease and osteoporosis are especially susceptible to tooth loss. Studies have recently shown a strong relationship between periodontitis, osteoporosis, and tooth loss. It has been suggested that the loss of bone density in the jaw may leave teeth more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum disease.

Steps Towards Healthy Bones

Preserving the health of your bones is vital to your overall and oral health. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you have optimal bone health:

1. Eat a balanced diet rich with vitamin D and calcium.
2. Exercise regularly. Weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training are best for keeping bones strong.
3. Do not smoke; limit alcohol consumption.
4. Report any issues with loose teeth, detached or receding gums, or ill-fitting dentures to your dentist immediately.

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Heart Disease

Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease.

The link between gum and heart problems has long been recognized but it is unclear if poor oral health is simply a marker of a person’s general well being. UK and Irish experts now say bacteria enter the bloodstream via sore gums and deposit a clot-forming protein. The findings are being presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.

Earlier this year a Scottish study of more than 11,000 people found people who did not brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk of heart disease. It backed up previous findings that suggested a link, but researchers stressed the nature of the relationship still needed further analysis.

Protective Platelets

Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria – responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease – which may be to blame.

Their work shows this bacteria, once let loose in the bloodstream, makes a protein known as PadA which forces platelets in the blood to stick together and clot.

Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

“This provides a protective cover not only from the immune system, but also from antibiotics that might be used to treat infection,” said Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the research.

“Unfortunately, as well as helping out the bacteria, platelet clumping can cause small blood clots, growths on the heart valves, or inflammation of blood vessels that can block the blood supply to the heart and brain.”

While maintaining Good Dental Hygiene could minimise the risk, the team is also investigating how the platelet-activating function of the protein PadA can be blocked.

Professor Damian Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: “Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

“It also underlines the high importance of brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, restricting your intake of sugary foods and drinks and visiting the Dentist regularly in order to maintain good oral health.”

The British Heart Foundation said that were other factors besides oral health which had a greater impact on heart health.

But their senior cardiac nurse Cathy Ross added that combining good oral health care “with a healthy diet, not smoking and taking part in plenty of physical activity will go a long way in helping you reduce your overall risk of heart disease”.

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Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Taking good care of your mouth does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. Having a healthy mouth and healthy body go hand-in-hand!

Pancreatic Cancer and Heart Disease

Recent studies have linked good oral hygiene with good overall health. Having a healthy mouth can reduce your risk for many serious diseases, including heart disease and pancreatic cancer. The inflammation that is caused by gingivitis and periodontal disease has been linked to these diseases. Bacteria that thrives in the mouth can travel to other parts of the body and can cause infection or worsen existing infections in many areas, including the lungs and joints.

Memory

Keeping your gums healthy not only prevents gingivitis and periodontal disease, but it can also help improve your memory, according to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. In a study done by the journal, adults who had gingivitis performed worse than those who didn’t on tests of memory and cognitive skills. They were more likely to perform poorly on tests of delayed verbal recall and subtraction–two skills we use every day!

Diabetes

Diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, which includes infections of the gums. Some experts have linked uncontrolled diabetes with gum disease, suggesting that untreated periodontal disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Having a healthy mouth will help you protect your overall health by making it easier to control your diabetes.

Pre-term Delivery and Low Birth Weight Babies

Some research suggests a link between gingivitis and pre-term, low birth weight infants. With 1 in 8 babies born prematurely, prevention is the key! Maintaining good oral health may help prevent premature delivery. See your Dentist as part of your prenatal care. He or she will give you good tips and insight into oral health and a healthy pregnancy.

A Healthy Mouth, A Healthy Body in Childhood

It’s never too early to start teaching your children to take care of their teeth and gums–healthy habits learned in childhood can pay off in adulthood. If you’re tempted to shrug off your good oral hygiene habits–brushing, flossing, and seeing your Dentist regularly — remember that you’re a role model for your kids!

As you can see, the phrase “healthy mouth, healthy you” really is true and is backed by growing scientific evidence!

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Diabetes

Research has come forth that suggests that the relationship between Periodontal Disease and diabetes goes both ways-periodontal disease can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Those who have diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than those who do not which makes it vital for diabetics to maintain their blood sugar and seek treatment for periodontal disease.

Diabetes Increases Chances of Periodontal Disease

Diabetics, as a result of their increased susceptibility to infection, are at greater risk of developing periodontal disease than those without diabetes. Those who do not have their diabetes under control are at an even greater risk for periodontal disease. Uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection that can occur in the mouth. Allowing diabetes to be left uncontrolled greatly increases a diabetic’s risk of moderate to severe periodontal disease. Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation, and poor healing in the oral tissues. All of these complications of diabetes can put a patient at greater risk for periodontal disease, but the inflammation of the gums is by far the most threatening. Besides impairing white blood cells, diabetes also causes blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow of nutrients and waste products from the tissues of the mouth. This inflammation greatly reduces the body’s ability to fight infections, such as the bacterial infection that causes Periodontitis or gum disease.

Additionally, the damage that periodontal disease can do is far greater in a diabetic patient than one without diabetes because healing in diabetics may be impaired, allowing the periodontal disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: A Two-Way Street

Not only does diabetes affect Periodontal Disease, periodontal disease has been shown to affect a patient’s diabetes. The relationship is a two-way street. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for patients with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

Periodontal disease has been shown to increase blood sugar which contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with high blood sugar. Bacterial infections, like periodontal disease, can affect the patient’s metabolism making it far more complicated to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because periodontal disease is a chronic infection, it has a negative impact on the diabetic’s ability to maintain control of the metabolic status. All of these effects can increase the risk for some of the complications of diabetes: glaucoma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure.

Several studies have found that treating periodontal disease helps diabetics control their blood sugars. One such study of 113 Pima Indians, published in the Journal of Periodontology (1997), found that when the Indians’ periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease in the Diabetic

If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment today to learn if you have periodontal disease. Treatment options for periodontal disease vary and can help you maintain and control your diabetic status. If you are diabetic, it is crucial for you to have healthy gums. Healthy gums will make it easier for you to control your blood sugar levels ultimately saving you time, effort, and money!

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Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Taking good care of your mouth does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. Having a healthy mouth and healthy body go hand-in-hand!

Pancreatic Cancer and Heart Disease

Recent studies have linked good oral hygiene with good overall health. Having a healthy mouth can reduce your risk for many serious diseases, including heart disease and pancreatic cancer. The inflammation that is caused by gingivitis and periodontal disease has been linked to these diseases. Bacteria that thrives in the mouth can travel to other parts of the body and can cause infection or worsen existing infections in many areas, including the lungs and joints.

Memory

Keeping your gums healthy not only prevents gingivitis and periodontal disease, but it can also help improve your memory, according to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. In a study done by the journal, adults who had gingivitis performed worse than those who didn’t on tests of memory and cognitive skills. They were more likely to perform poorly on tests of delayed verbal recall and subtraction–two skills we use every day!

Diabetes

Diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, which includes infections of the gums. Some experts have linked uncontrolled diabetes with gum disease, suggesting that untreated periodontal disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Having a healthy mouth will help you protect your overall health by making it easier to control your diabetes.

Pre-term Delivery and Low Birth Weight Babies

Some research suggests a link between gingivitis and pre-term, low birth weight infants. With 1 in 8 babies born prematurely, prevention is the key! Maintaining good oral health may help prevent premature delivery. See your Dentist as part of your prenatal care. He or she will give you good tips and insight into oral health and a healthy pregnancy.

A Healthy Mouth, A Healthy Body in Childhood

It’s never too early to start teaching your children to take care of their teeth and gums–healthy habits learned in childhood can pay off in adulthood. If you’re tempted to shrug off your good oral hygiene habits–brushing, flossing, and seeing your Dentist regularly — remember that you’re a role model for your kids!

As you can see, the phrase “healthy mouth, healthy you” really is true and is backed by growing scientific evidence!

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Dangers of Gum Disease

There are millions of germs that live in your mouth. If you suffer from Gum Disease, you have open wounds in your gums that allow the bacteria to enter directly into your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. Some of the bacteria normally found in the mouth enter your bloodstream through infected gums and can relocate to other parts of your body with the potential of creating disease in organs and systems.

Much research is being done to investigate if a definitive link exists between periodontal disease and other systemic illnesses. Many of the results are inconclusive; however, research has shown some links between periodontal disease and heart disease, ischemic stroke, respiratory disease, head and neck cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and increased risk of pre-term delivery.

Gum Disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for the majority of adults in the United States. Losing your teeth, however, is not the only danger of this disease.

When you have gum disease, there is an active, living infection in your mouth. This infection releases toxins to the entire body through the blood vessels in your mouth causing a variety of health-related issues.