Q: Can gum disease cause other health problems?
A: It’s long been known that your oral health is closely related to your overall health. New research has found that chronic periodontitis, an inflammatory gum disease, is potentially related to the severity of heart attacks, also called myocardial infarctions. Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain studied 112 heart attack patients and tested them for a variety of conditions, including periodontal health. Their preliminary findings were that there is a relationship between gum disease and the severity of heart attacks. Their findings were published in the prestigious Journal of Dental Research under the title, “Acute myocardial infarct size is related to periodontitis extent and severity.” Research is continuing.
Medical experts have known for some time, however, that bacteria from gum infection—and from other ailments in the mouth—can get into the bloodstream and cause problems. Researchers have found, for instance, that people who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without gum disease. Several years ago, as published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, doctors determined that in the case of a 35-year-old mother who had a stillborn birth, the baby’s stomach and lungs contained the same strain of oral bacteria the mother had in her untreated gum disease.
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