British researchers, together with dentists, have linked gum inflammation to a range of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and even poor mental health.
What have the researchers discovered?
Inflammation of the gums and the tissues surrounding the tooth is associated with an increased risk of numerous chronic conditions. For example, patients with gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular diseases such as brain hemorrhage, heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease.
They are also more at risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome (a form of rheumatism) and “systemic lupus erythematosus”, a condition in which inflammation occurs throughout the body.
In addition, and this is very striking, the researchers saw a link between poor oral hygiene and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
How did the scientists find out?
They compared the data of more than 64,000 patients with gum disease with 250,000 people with healthy teeth. The data comes from a database of general practitioners and covers the period from 1 January 1995 to 1 January 2019.
More studies have been done on the link between unhealthy teeth and physical health. What’s new about this research?
According to the researchers, this is the largest epidemiological study to date on the health effects of gum disease, using data from GP practices.
Also, according to them, it is the first study that has examined and quantified the link between unhealthy gums and mental health.
Plaque bacteria can enter the bloodstream with inflamed gums, contributing to a whole range of conditions, including rheumatism, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
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Do the results mean that gum disease causes all kinds of ailments?
No, a causal link cannot be established with this type of epidemiological research. However, the researchers suspect that there is a causal link between gum disease and chronic conditions.
They see a few possible explanations for this. Thus, according to them, inflamed gums cause an inflammatory response throughout the body, which in turn can lead to cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and mental health complaints.
What do the researchers advise?
The researchers believe it is important that patients receive proper treatment aimed at promoting oral health. They think that could improve the patient’s overall health and reduce the risk of disease in the future.
What can people do themselves?
People can improve their oral hygiene by brushing their teeth regularly, i.e. twice a day for at least two minutes.
Dental Clinics advise using fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger and less sensitive to acids in foods and drinks.
According to the dental group practice, it is also wise not to eat or drink one hour before brushing your teeth, except water. Due to the action of acids, teeth become softer, which can damage the enamel layer during brushing.
In addition, according to dental practice, it is necessary to properly clean the spaces between the teeth with the help of toothpicks, brushes, or floss.