Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health Ramifications

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Just as blood from the heart travels to all parts of the body to provide nourishment, so can infection from one part of the body travel through the intricate network of the body’s blood supply to the rest. Infection in the oral cavity may travel through the rich blood supply of the mucosal lining into the body’s circulation. This phenomenon is the reason why periodontal or gum disease is the cause of many systemic diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among others.

Gum disease results when we do not treat our oral cavity with care. Care involves brushing at least twice daily, flossing, utilizing a hydrofloss machine, oil pulling with clarified oils like coconut or sesame, adding xylitol to your diet, and regular dental checkups at six-month intervals. When we neglect this, bacteria in our mouth act on food particles, producing harmful toxins, which result in infections of the oral cavity, including the gum.

Modern studies have revealed that there are different ways by which oral diseases, particularly periodontal disease, cause systemic conditions. It has been said that the bacteria themselves or the toxins they release may spread through the blood stream to the joints, the heart, and even the brain. Here, these bacteria can cause serious damage and result in disease. Again, as the body tries to fight off infection in the mouth, it releases powerful substances to destroy bacteria, but these substances may get into the blood stream and harm normal body cells, resulting in strokes or heart disease. The bacteria, their toxins and the powerful substances released by the body also worsen blood sugar levels, and thus are seen to affect control of diabetes. As such, people with diabetes and gum disease have higher blood sugar levels. Even more disturbing is that people without diabetes also have poor blood sugar control if there is gum disease present, thus increasing their chances of getting diabetes.

It is essential that we have regular dental checkups with our holistic dentists so infection can be detected and treated early and on time. There must be a good relationship between general health care and oral health care to ensure that we do not harm our bodies through neglect of our oral hygiene.

Source: Linda J. Golden, DDS, of Golden Dental Wellness Center (444 Community Dr., Ste. 204, Manhasset). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-627-8400 or visit

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