When you receive family dental care in Lakewood, it’s easy to think that the treatments administered by our Advanced Family Dental doctors only impact the health of your teeth and gums. In fact, your oral health plays a far bigger role in determining your overall health than you might think.
A variety of studies have found significant links between common dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss with a number of chronic illnesses. Heart disease and diabetes are two such diseases that research has found to have a direct connection to our oral health. This connection is especially evident when examining the link between diabetes and our oral health.
Patients with diabetes have a hard time preventing infections, making it far more likely they develop gum disease if they don’t remain dedicated to maintaining their oral health. Conversely, patients with gum disease have a hard time managing their blood sugar levels, making it difficult for them to properly control their diabetes. This type of symbiotic relationship underscores how certain diseases in the body can be affected by our oral health.
Now, two new studies further explore this type of connection by suggesting our oral health may play an important role in preventing cancer.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki report that the oral bacteria Treponema denticola, which has been previously linked to the development of severe gum disease, is also linked to the development of oral cancers, as well as pancreatic and other forms of cancer.
Finding a Connection
In the first study, researchers discovered the same indicators for Treponema denticola in malignant tumors located in the gastrointestinal tract, which is thought connected to the development of pancreatic cancer. These indicators come primarily from a specific enzyme linked to Treponema denticola.
A second study involving 70,000 patients in Finland found the enzyme to have the ability to stimulate other enzymes that cancer cells use to invade healthy tissue. The bacterial virulence factor, boosted by this distinct enzyme, has been discovered to spread from the mouth throughout the rest of the body. This particular study was able to conclusively show that severe gum disease – also known as periodontitis – has a clear link to death by cancer.
The data collected in these studies show for the first time that the virulence factors of the central pathogenic bacteria related to the development of gum disease are capable of spreading to other areas of the body. When combined with other harmful bacteria, Treponema denticola work to stimulate the mechanisms of tissue destruction caused by cancer.
Protecting Your Health
The more science shows us about the connections that exist between our oral and overall health, the harder it becomes to ignore the current state of our oral health. Ignoring daily habits like brushing and flossing have a higher cost than just enduring a bout of bad breath or needing to repair a cavity with a filling. These habits not only stand as a means of protecting our oral health, but as a means of safeguarding our overall health as well.
Maintaining and improving the state of your oral health also requires scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our team at Advanced Family Dental. Regular exams provide our doctors with the opportunity to spot the early signs of disease while still easily treatable. Frequent cleanings allow our team of gentle dental hygiensts the chance to remove plaque deposits from the surface of your teeth, which lowers your risk for gum disease and tooth loss.
When you combine regular dental care with brushing twice a day and flossing daily, you can significantly improve the long-term health of your teeth and gums. And as we now know, that also means improving the long-term health of your body as well. Don’t underestimate the important role your oral health plays in helping to protect the body from disease. Schedule family dental care in Lakewood with our team at Advanced Family Dental today and take charge of your oral health.