Inflammation and Oral Health

Most people know that maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a necessary step in achieving overall well-being. In fact, now not only dentists encourage brushing and flossing, but many physicians also promote oral hygiene and regular dental preventative care as a way to help keep the rest of the body healthy. Several research studies have suggested that gum disease may be associated with other health issues, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And with more and more research reinforcing the connection between periodontal and systemic health, scientists are beginning to understand why these connections exist. One theory points to chronic inflammation as the culprit. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to harm, such as an injury or infection. For many years, dentists believed that gum disease developed as a result of a bacterial infection caused by the build-up of plaque between the teeth and under the gums. While plaque build-up is still a factor in the development and progression of gum disease, researchers now suspect that inflammation is the reason for loss of bone around teeth.

Many other diseases are also considered to be systemic inflammatory disorders, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and even certain forms of cancer, suggesting that chronic inflammation itself may be the basis for the connection.

Research has indicated that gum disease sufferers are at a higher risk for other diseases, it is critical to maintain periodontal health in an effort to achieve overall health.