A healthy oral environment reduces the chances of a heart attack and diabetes.

Research journals and modern medical professionals have been pointing to a connection between our oral health, diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

 In fact, a patient visited my office seeking a clean bill of health from their Orthopedic Surgeon prior to performing a hip replacement surgery. In this case the main concern was the bacteria in the mouth and gums getting into the blood stream. Some bacteria also collect on valves of your heart and prosthetic devices seen in hip and knee replacement procedures.

The Journal of Periodontology reported that inflammatory effects of periodontal disease cause oral bacterial enzymes and waste to enter the blood stream and trigger the liver to release substances that increase the risk of heart disease. This inflammation can be measured. A substance produced by the body called C-reactive protein (CRP) is suspected to play a role in the link between gum disease and heart disease. This test may be available in some medical labs. The test reveals your likelihood of general inflammation, arterial inflammation and increased risk of blood clots.

Let’s discuss Diabetes and how your sugar load can be reduced by improving your periodontal health:

The statistics on diabetes is staggering.

There are nearly two million new diagnoses of diabetes each year in the US. In the Bahamas October 25th2020 Tribune, the Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said; “The prevalence of diabetes in 2005 was 6.7 percent. It has now reached 13.9 per cent and if we include pre-diabetics, we have a staggering prevalence of almost 19%. Our death rate from diabetes stands at 37.9 deaths per 100,000 people.”

The prevalence of Diabetes is directly related to our lifestyle choices. Diabetes is now the fifth leading cause of death and one in seven of the population suffering from diabetes in The Bahamas.

The health of your gums can influence your diabetic status.

We have known for years that if you are diabetic; you have a greater likelihood of gum diseases. If your diabetes is unmanaged, you can lose all of your teeth. The more severe the diabetes, the severity of periodontitis increases.

Let’s discuss the science briefly. We have two primary cells involved in bone maintenance: the osteoblast, which is the cell that forms bone. The other is the osteoclast, which is the cell that removes the old bone. One likely reason for periodontal bone loss in the diabetic is that high blood glucose itself severely slows the production of osteoblasts. High blood glucose also hinders the ability of the gums and bone to heal. It doesn’t stop there as there is significant association between periodontitis and your general health.

In those diabetics with severe periodontitis, the mortality rate from heart disease was almost 3 times greater, and from kidney disease over 8 times greater, than in the normal population.

However, the reverse appears to be true as well. Good periodontal control positively influences your general diabetic condition.

So, what does this mean to you?

It means that everyone, but mostly the diabetic and heart disease patient, need a thorough assessment of his or her dental & periodontal condition. This includes periodontal probing, x-rays and an assessment of mobility, bleeding, swelling, fever and other items important in a full periodontal examination. 

If periodontitis is diagnosed, the next step is to treat it effectively. In most cases treatment involves non- surgical scaling and root planning below the gum line. If some areas do not respond to scaling, there are a number of additional approaches with lasers that can be used to gain access to the pocket and even help to replace some or all of the lost bone support.

Periodontal disease is something that must be acknowledged and treated. Early treatment does not only save your teeth, but may save your life.

Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected].

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