The World Oral Health Report (2003) states that the relationship between oral health and general health is proven by evidence. Since that report, new evidence has emerged further strengthening the case. Oral health and general health are related in four major ways:
- Poor oral health is significantly associated with major chronic diseases
- Poor oral health causes disability
- Oral health issues and major diseases share common risk factors
- General health problems may cause or worsen oral health conditions.
Studies have found the incidence of heart disease is about twice as high in people with gum disease. Oral bacteria mixes in with blood-clotting cells called platelets, leading to the formation of clumps that travels through the blood vessels. These clumps of cells and bacteria irritate vessel walls and may promote formation of heart stopping blood clots.
The inflammation also produces a protein that can irritate the interior of blood vessels creating sites where fatty deposits can form, called plaques, leading to atherosclerosis, and life threatening heart attacks and stroke.
A recent study found that of all fatty deposits lodged in carotid arteries of stroke sufferers shows that 70% contain bacteria and 40% of that bacteria comes from the mouth!
Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart and the inner lining of the heart becomes inflamed. Left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves and can lead to life-threatening complications.
Endocarditis is uncommon in people with healthy hearts. People at greatest risk of endocarditis have a damaged heart valve, an artificial heart valve or other heart defects.
For dental treatment, people at risk of Infective Endocarditis are required to take a prophylactic dose of antibiotics prior to treatment.
Respiratory infections, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, involve the inhalation of bacteria from your mouth into your lungs. In case of immunodeficiency, or elderly patients, this can cause infection.
Additionally, bacterial enzymes lower the protection given by mucous against the colonisation of bacteria.
The immune system can become so compromised that its ability to resist additional infections and toxins could be seriously diminished. A weakened immune system will put the various body systems at risk and create a domino effect in regard to infections.
Just at gum disease can put additional stress on the body’s immune system, a weakened immune system can make it more difficult to prevent and treat gum disease. A weakened immune system can also slow wound healing, resulting in a diminished response to gum treatment, or delayed healing after extraction.
For patients who have a condition that significantly diminishes you immune system, it is absolutely crucial not to leave your gum disease go untreated. All diseases stress the immune system but none so much as HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS can be fatal as result of a failed immune system, such as pneumonia and kidney failure.