The Unexpected Danger of Gum Disease


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — About 47 percent of adults 30 and older have gum disease. That number jumps to 70 percent for those 65 and older. Gum disease causes red, swollen and bleeding gums, and in late stages, may cause teeth to loosen and fall out. Now, a new study shows that your gums may not be the only thing affected by this condition.  Ivanhoe has details on how your mental health could be impacted, too.

Brushing twice a day, flossing every day, limiting sugary treats; these are all elements for good dental care. But orthodontist Lawrence Hier, DDS, MS, told Ivanhoe, “Patients would constantly come in with poor oral hygiene.”

In a survey, it was found that 59 percent of respondents did not floss once a day and 31 percent of Americans failed to brush twice a day. Two percent admitted to not brushing at all. Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, but researchers from the U.K. have also found it was linked to mental health issues. The researchers looked at medical files for nearly 65,000 people with gum disease. They found 37 percent also had mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

“When we’re stressed, our homeostatic relationships in our bodies are not working as well, therefore we get an overgrowth of bacteria, dry mouth,” explained periodontist David Genet, DMD.

Cognitive decline has also been linked to gum disease. A study in Boston linked periodontal disease with an increased buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain. Bottom line? Good oral hygiene doesn’t only just take care of your mouth but may take care of your mind as well.

A pathogen linked to bacteria commonly found in chronic gum disease patients was associated with increased production of beta-amyloid in the brain. Now researchers are looking into treatments aimed at that pathogen that may reduce cognitive decline in some Alzheimer’s patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor



REPORT #2955

BACKGROUND: Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an inflammatory disease that affects the hard and soft structures that support the teeth. Nearly 46 percent of all adults 30 years and older shows signs of gum disease, and around nine percent of adults are affected by severe gum disease. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. Tooth loss may affect the ability to chew food and can get worse with the number and type of missing teeth, which in turn can affect a person’s quality of diet. Some increased risks for gum disease are diabetes, tobacco use, a weakened immune system, and poor oral hygiene. Mild gum disease can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms can also be treated successfully with consultation and treatment.


RISKS OF GUM DISEASE: A study out of the University of Birmingham shows an increased risk of patients developing mental illnesses and heart conditions if they have a history of periodontal disease. Experts studied 64,379 patients who had a history of the disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Of these, 60,995 had gingivitis and 3,384 had periodontitis. The records were compared to those of 251,161 patients who had no record of periodontal disease. It revealed the average age was 44 years and 43 percent were male, while 30 percent were smokers. The goal of the study was to establish how many of the patients with and without periodontal disease go on to develop cardiovascular disease, cardiometabolic disorders, autoimmune conditions, and mental illness over an average follow-up of around three years. Results showed, in patients with a history of periodontal disease, the increased risk of developing mental illness was 37 percent, while the risk of developing autoimmune disease was increased by 33 percent, and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease was raised by 18 percent.


PROMISING TREATMENT: Scientists have developed a treatment to combine biological and mechanical techniques to repair and regenerate bone and gum tissue. Researchers created a thin, film-like membrane which was coated with a special material that has been found to speed up bone regeneration. They then tested this against human stem cells from the gums which had been exposed to erosion for eight weeks. They surgically implant the membrane between the inflamed gum and tooth. The membrane blocks the infection from the gums and delivers antibiotics, medication, and growth factors to the gum tissue. Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, says, “Scientific breakthroughs in similar fields have already led to developments in many other areas of healthcare, such as prosthetics and tissue regeneration. These have helped millions of people gain a better quality of life, and this cutting-edge research has the potential to do the same in the future.”


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Karen Dennis

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