Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body

 Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body

 

Once upon a time, it was thought that the mouth was “separate” from the rest of your body, and that problems in the mouth had nothing to do with your general overall health. So if a tooth was infected or it was “rotten”, you’d simply extract the tooth and voila, problem solved! It was believed that the removal of said rotten tooth was a cure for gum disease and the patient was at no further risk. 

We know now that this is definitely not the case. 

Periodontal disease is a complex, chronic inflammatory disease that affects the tissues and bone supporting the teeth.  Scaling with instruments and the use of mouthwashes are typically successful in eliminating the cause of periodontal diseases by disrupting and removing the bacterial colonies.  However, recent studies have shown that these methods are insufficient in halting periodontal disease progression because they don’t take into account the biology of the periodontal tissues and the inflammatory process. 

Research is starting to show that the inflammatory process in one organ can lead to disease in another organ or tissue. There can be communication between distant parts of the body.  Bleeding is a common sign of periodontal inflammation, and every time a periodontal pocket bleeds, bacteria can enter into the blood circulation.  How much bacteria can enter the blood is unknown, but regardless of the number, a healthy immune system can eliminate the bacteria efficiently.  An immune response that is defective can result in the progression of inflammatory diseases as a result of these migrating bacteria. 

There is strong evidence that there is an association between chronic periodontal inflammation and other inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes and rheumatoid arthritis.

One would assume that periodontal disease and Type 2 Diabetes are completely different since they affect different organs, however they share a common element: unresolved inflammation. Recent evidence shows high levels of inflammation in the body resulting from the entry of periodontal bacteria into the blood circulation, which can further connect the impact of periodontal disease on diabetes.

The association between oral infections (mostly periodontitis) and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease has now been supported with significant evidence. There is a significant increased risk for cardiovascular disease in people with periodontitis and the link between both is through inflammation.  A localized area of inflammation (such as in the periodontium) can increase vascular inflammation in the body.