February 28, 2015
You can’t watch too much television before you see an advertisement for toothpaste, floss, or mouthrinse. Each one claims to protect you from gingivitis, but what in the world is that, anyway? Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. You probably wouldn’t even know it was there, so what’s the big deal? Gingivitis soon turns into advanced gum disease. Advanced gum disease is much more uncomfortable with swollen, bleeding gums.
The discomfort is a great reason to protect yourself from gum disease, but the long term effects are terrifying. Gum disease has been linked, time and again, to fatal conditions like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. We have some of the latest research on those topics to give you an idea of what scientists are learning about the relationship between gum disease and these dangerous conditions.
Pancreatic Cancer Study
A group of scientists studying men found that those who developed gum disease were 64% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer later in life. That statistic is enormous! The research does not explain this connection or why it happens, but the statistic is pretty clear. There is definitely a connection!
Heart Disease Theory
We have long known that gum disease and heart disease were linked, but we did not understand that connection. A new theory from scientists might explain the connection.
When your gums bleed from an infection, the bacteria makes its way into your bloodstream where it sticks to blood platelets. As it travels through your veins, more and more platelets stick together with the bacteria causing a blood clot. That clot could cause heart disease symptoms or even a heart attack!
Again, this is a possible explanation of what is happening. More research is needed to find out why this happens and how we might prevent it.
Alzheimer’s Disease Find
As you are probably aware, there is a lot of research looking into Alzheimer’s right now. Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, so researchers spend a lot of time comparing healthy brains with those affected by Alzheimer’s.
In a recent study, the researchers discovered a bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. It was NOT in the healthy brains. The bacteria is called p. gingivalis. This is the same bacteria found in the mouths of gum disease patients, which shows a possible link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Of course, all new research is just that: new. There is a lot more to learn about what exactly is going on, but the evidence is pretty clear. Gum disease affects your overall health in long-term, permanent ways.
Know how to prevent gum disease in your smile. It begins with great oral hygiene and ends with routine dental appointments. Contact us today to set up your next cleaning and exam. We would love to help you have a happier and healthier smile!