Did you know?
Studies reported in the Harvard Medical School’s Health publications indicate that for men and women, there is a large complex variety of bacteria that are present in the mouth. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, has been linked to other chronic or degenerative diseases.
There is a certain, balanced, ecosystem of bacteria in the mouth . When the bacterial species remain in balance, the gums remain protected from disease. When something disturbs that balance, disease-causing bacteria begin to affect the gums and cause damage. These bad bacteria cause inflammation, which further disturbs the body’s immune system. As periodontal disease progresses, the inflammation begins to destroy gum tissue and ultimately the jaw bone, which can lead to the premature loss of teeth.
In addition, patients with periodontal disease have been found to be at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, complications in pregnancy, and even dementia. The inflammation present in all these diseases appears to be the link.
Interestingly, the association between inflammation and the pathogenic bacteria appears to work in two directions. . For example, diabetes research has determined that successfully treating periodontitis reduces the severity of diabetes and vice versa.
So what the important lessons?
Brush, floss, don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, have regular cleanings, and as the Harvard Heatlth Watch states:
Get treatment at the first signs of gum disease: Swollen, bleeding gums; pockets of pus, gums that appear to have pulled away from your teeth. Spaces between your teeth that appear to have widened, and bridges or partial dentures that no longer as well as they once did, may be signs of periodontal disease.
“Scientists have identified the 700 species of bacteria that inhabit our mouths, presenting the possibility of probiotic therapies that prevent harmful bacteria from getting a foothold. Research may also yield a new generation of therapies that wind down the inflammatory response rather than inhibit it completely, and thus may have fewer side effects than current anti-inflammatory medications do.”