Category Archives: Oral Health

Brush Your Teeth, It May Help Prevent Dementia

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and in recognition of this today’s post will look at the relationship between chronic periodontitis and subsequent development of dementia.

Periodonitis is very common, but may be preventable with proper dental hygiene. It is defined as inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Periodonitis begins with gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums.

A group of researchers from Korea recently published a study looking at the possible risk chronic periodonitis may play in the development of dementia. This was a retrospective cohort study with a huge number of participants, over 260,000. These subjects were followed from 2005 to 2015. Other health factors were included such as age, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, exercise level, gender, smoking status, among other factors.

At the end of 2015 the study concluded. The researchers found that subjects with chronic periodonitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia, and a 5% higher risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, compared to those without chronic periodonitis.

The authors propose three possible mechanisms by which chronic periodonitis may be related to neurodegenerative processes. First, perhaps bacteria or other pathogens may cross the blood-brain barrier causing an inflammatory response. Second, there may be increased systemic inflammation or thirdly perhaps increased atherosclerotic plaque formation, leading to endothelial damage.

Current medications for dementia only slow progression of the disease, and do not work in all patients. Some patients are unable to tolerate medication side effects. Therefore it is important to identify those risk factors for dementia which are potentially modifiable which in turn could lower one’s risk for development of dementia.

This is a robust study, with a very large number of participants. Also, it may be the first study on this topic to look at concomitant risk factors such as exercise level and smoking status. Given the results, you may want to enlist the help of your dentist and dental hygienist as strategies to prevent dementia.

“Behind every smile there’s teeth.”–  Confucius

(Source- Journal of the American Geriatric Society  00:1-6, 2019)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Poor Dental Health Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Women

March 20th is World Oral Health Day, and in recognition of this our post today will examine the relationship between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women.

Statistics from the CDC indicate that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., accounting for nearly 1 in 4 female deaths. It is estimated that heart disease costs the U.S. about $200 billion annually.

For this study, researchers enrolled 57,000 females from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, between the years 1993-1998. The women were from 40 health centers nationwide, between the ages of 50 to 79. The participants periodontal status was assessed by a questionnaire at five years. There was also annual follow-up through 2010.

Results of the study demonstrated that total mortality risk was significantly higher in women with either edentualism or periodontitis. Also, women who were edentulous had a significantly higher risk of coronary vascular disease and coronary heart disease. These higher risks held even after data was adjusted for potential confounding factors.

This is a very robust study- a large group of post-menopausal women, a cohort that is generally underrepresented in medical research. Given the results of the study, good oral hygiene may be worthy of consideration as a way to potentially lower risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

On World Oral Health Day, please remember to thank your dentist and hygienist for all their efforts on behalf of your health!

“You don’t have to brush your teeth- just the ones you want to keep.”– Anonymous

(Source- Journal of the American Heart Association, 2017)

This bog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Good Oral Hygiene May Prevent High Blood Pressure

In recognition of World Oral Health Day on March 20th today’s post will examine the relationship between periodontal disease and prehypertension, as well as hypertension.

According to statistics from the CDC, more than 25% of the adults in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay. In addition, almost half of U.S. adults have some signs of gum disease. Periodontitis is defined as the inflammation of the gums and support structures of the teeth. It is caused by certain bacteria, and in turn these bacteria cause inflammation. It is thought that perhaps if this inflammatory state becomes chronic, it may have implications for inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as in cardiovascular health.

A research group in Japan performed a prospective cohort study on a group of university students, examining whether periodontal disease was related to the development of prehypertension, or to hypertension. Over 2500 students enrolled in the study, ages 18-27 years.

Dentists assessed the oral health of each student. Periodontal health was evaluated using the Community Periodontal Index (CPI), which is commonly used to measure periodontal disease. The CPI is an objective measure of periodontal health, and also suggests the proper treatment for the given CPI score. In addition to the CPI, the dentists also measured the Bleeding Upon Probing (BOP), which is felt to be a simple way to assess inflammation. While dentists assessed oral health, the resting blood pressure and body mass index of the subjects was also measured. The participants also completed a questionnaire, which assessed both dental and general health measures.

The Japanese university students were followed over a period of three years. What the researchers discovered was that the risk of developing hypertension over the three years was significantly associated with periodontal disease.

Given the results of this study, consider practicing good oral health as a way to lower your risk for developing high blood pressure. And don’t forget to thank your dentists and hygienists on World Oral Health Day, or the next time you see them.

“I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow, he told me to wear a brown tie.” – Rodney Dangerfield

(Source- American Journal of Hypertension, March 2016)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.