For around a decade now research has investigated the relationship between gum disease (periodontal disease) and general health. There is strong evidence for relationships between gum disease and heart disease and diabetes. Poor gum health increase risk of future heart disease and affects blood sugar levels. It has recently been shown that improving gum health could prevent or slow progression of heart disease. Further research is also needed into possible links with rheumatoid arthritis, lung and kidney problems, osteoporosis, dementia and even premature births.
It is thought that bacteria from the mouth travel into the bloodstream through inflamed gum tissue and produce an inflammatory response in the body.
Thorough cleaning and scaling to remove plaque bacteria along with careful oral hygiene can reduce the effects of gum inflammation.
It is possible that dental hygienists may therefore have a role to play in preventative medicine alongside preventive dentistry.
For more information visit dentalhealth.org and click on “tell me about” – healthy gums and healthy body
Donna, practice hygienist