by Amber Currie RDH
We are a year into the coronavirus pandemic, and the feeling of burnout is common.
For many there have been a shift in priorities, and the pandemic has changed the way we take care of ourselves. Oral health has decreased during the past year, with changes in personal and professional roles and schedules. This oral health month, it is important to remember that oral health is essential to overall health. Delays in dental care have brought on unnecessary preventable tooth and gum infections. Dentistry remains an essential service during this time and should not be delayed.
Gum disease is prevalent among Canadian adults. The Canadian Dental Association reports that 7 out of 10 Canadian adults will develop gum disease at some point in their life. There are many ways in which gum disease affects your whole body. When your gums bleed, bacteria are able to enter your bloodstream and travel around to different parts of the body. Untreated tooth and gum infections will not heal on their own, and can affect overall health and can increase the risk of developing other systemic diseases.
Did you Know?
- Oral bacteria can cause heart disease
- People with gum disease are at least three times more likely to experience COVID‐19 complications including death, ICU admission, and the need for assisted ventilation
- Oral bacteria increases the risk of stroke
- People with gum disease are at an increased risk for diabetes
- Diabetes heightens the risk of gum disease, while gum inflammation affects glycemic control, making it a two-way association
- Gum disease increases the risk of head and neck cancer
- Gum disease increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and kidney disease
- Gum disease can worsen conditions such as COPD, and may play a role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema
- Research has found an association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis
- Tooth loss and gum disease increase the risk of Alzheimers disease
- Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes
Signs and symptoms of oral infections include: swollen and bleeding gums, pain, swelling, sensitivity, chronic bad taste, and chronic bad breath. Unfortunately, you can have periodontal disease asymptomatically. The good news is that oral infections are not only preventable, but most infections can be treated under proper care.
4 Steps to a Healthy Mouth
- Visit your dental office regularly. Regular oral exams and dental hygiene treatment are necessary in detecting and preventing oral health problems.
- Keep your mouth clean. Brush twice each day, and clean between your teeth once per day using floss, an interdental brush or a water flosser.
- Eat a well balanced diet. Choose a variety of foods low in sugars and carbohydrates, drink water between meals and limit drinking alcohol.
- Avoid smoking, vaping and using smokeless tobacco.
Bale, BF; Doneen, AL; Vigerust, DJ. 2017. ‘High-Risk Periodontal Pathogens Contribute to the Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis’. Postgraduate Medical Journal. Vol 93. Issue 1098.
Marouf, N; Cai, W; Said, KN; Daas, H; Diab, H; Chinta, RC, Hssain, AA; Nicolau, B; Sanz, M; Tamimi, F. 2021. ‘Association Between Periodontitis and Severity of COVID-19 Infection: A Case-Control Study’. Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
Bui, FQ; Coutinho Almeida-de-Silva, CL; Huynh, B; Trihn, A; Liu, J; Woodward, J; Asadi, H; Ojcius, DM. 2019. ‘Association Between Periodontal Pathogens and Systemic Disease’. Biomedical Journal. Vol 42. Issue 1. Pages 27-35.
Sharma, P., et al. (2020) Oxidative stress links periodontal inflammation and renal function. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. doi.org/10.1111/jcpe.13414.
Christiensen, T. 2021. How Oral Health May Affect Your Heart, Brain and Risk of Death. heart.org. Retrieved 04/10/2021 from https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/03/19/how-oral-health-may-affect-your-heart-brain-and-risk-of-death.