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Systemic Effects of Oral Health Issues

The June edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) had a guest editorial commentary refuting the systemic effects of dental disease. The idea that in 2018 we would still be debating the effect of bacterium such as actinomyces odontolyticus resident in a dental alveolar abscess is astounding. This bacterium is well known for its migration and

generation of remote abscesses in the brain, lungs, abdomen and urinary tract regions through circulatory/lymphatic pathways. The commentary further states, “The dental community may be taking a ‘step too far’ in embracing associations of oral and systemic disease as a reason to maintain good oral health.” This view in the dental profession is amazing.

As a result of reading this unequivocally misleading article, I am writing to share the knowledge and understanding about how our body systems are interconnected and that the promotion of oral heal care is essential to human health. Investigators and others have demonstrated the intimate negative systemic and local effect of dental alveolar abscess, periodontitis and apical periodontitis of the root canal on metabolism and general health of the human body. The following diseases and symptoms have been shown to be exacerbated or result from dental disease:

  • In an April 30, 2016 article, the Mayo Clinic describes the following conditions that can be linked to oral health:
    • Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. This disease has been shown to occur when bacteria or other germs from another part of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
    • Cardiovascular disease, such as clogged arteries and stroke, could be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
    • Premature birth and low birth weight have been linked to periodontitis.
  • The Harvard Medical School publication Harvard Health Publishing, on July 23, 2014, describes the relationship between gum disease and other health issues including premature birth, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health problems. They reference a report in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that finds that treating gum disease can lead to better health. 

To be clear, it is essential to maintain our dental health to assure our overall health and well-being. To reduce oral health to just the pursuit of shiny teeth and self-confidence is a disservice to the wonderful integrated system that is our body.

For more information, call Dr. Ronald S. Carlson, DDS, at 808-735-0282 or visit carlsonbridgetech.com.

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