We traditionally think of poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and obesity as risk factors for chronic illness, but research suggests that hidden tooth infections should be added to this list for a number of conditions, from heart disease, endocarditis, and pneumonia, autoimmune disorders, and dementia.
Mouth infections tucked away beneath crowns, implants, root canals, tooth sockets, or jaw recesses are often difficult to detect due to lack of symptoms. In fact, up to 1 in 4 people could possess a hidden tooth infection and not even know it! Getting regular examinations from a qualified dental practitioner is crucial to making sure hidden infections don’t worsen over time and increase your risk of chronic disease.
Below are some serious health issues that the latest research has correlated with tooth infections.
University of Helsinki scientists discovered that patients with undiagnosed root tip infections were 2.7 times more likely to have acute coronary syndrome than patients with healthy teeth. It is believed the low-grade inflammation and bacteria involved affect other parts of the body. Further, antibodies reactive to periodontal organisms have been discovered in heart plaques and can trigger heart disease.
Endocarditis is a rare, life-threatening inflammation of the heart muscle and valves. Researchers studying infective endocarditis found that bacteria in tooth plaque multiplies and causes gum disease, leading to bleeding and widespread bacterial infection. For this reason, they began recommending antibiotics prior to dental procedures for patients at a high risk of endocarditis.
Yale University School of Medicine scientists found changes in the mouth often preceded the development of pneumonia, a lung infection that affects roughly one million Americans. Bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and swelling are all signs to watch out for, say experts. Since pneumonia can be fatal for 50,000 (or five percent) of the people who get it, early detection of risk factors is crucial.
A 30-year analysis of Swedish patients found a correlation between oral health and autoimmune disorders. Subjects with a higher plaque index were more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder over a 30-year period. Autoimmune issues included diabetes, rheumatic disease, Henoch- Schönlein purpura, and ulcerative colitis. Of those studied, 46% of the people with autoimmune disease were missing anywhere from one to six teeth.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that those who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily. Researchers speculated that gum disease bacteria was able to get into the brain, where it could cause inflammation and a gradual loss of cognitive function.
At Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery in Bucks County, our highly trained dentists perform full oral health examinations at every visit, so you are never left in the dark with regard to your health. Contact us to schedule your next visit.