As a founding member of the American Association for Oral Systemic Health or AAOSH, Dr. Dennis is deeply concerned about the relationship between our oral and whole body health. The AAOSH is dedicated to expanding awareness of this important relationship among dental and medical professionals and the public.
Oral Health and Systemic Diseases
According to Dr. Jed Jacobson of the AAOSH, “Dentists are now able to detect the signs and symptoms of more than 120 diseases by examining the mouth, head, and neck. And about 90 percent of systemic diseases have oral manifestations.” This means there are two-way relationships between periodontal disease and other systemic inflammatory diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The presence of these systemic diseases increase the risk that periodontal disease will develop because they make it harder for our bodies to deal with infections and inflammation. And it appears that the reverse is also true. Periodontal disease puts us at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And finally, other diseases with oral signs and symptoms include HIV, osteoporosis, eating disorders, oral cancer, and kidney disease.
Cardiovascular Disease and Oral Health
According to the AAOSH, “Periodontal disease is directly linked to artery inflammation.” Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. Gum or periodontal disease is one of the risk factors for heart disease, and periodontal treatment lowers hospital admissions and reduces medical costs.
The connection between periodontal disease and diabetes is another area the AAOSH focuses on. According to their sources, a full 95 percent of people with diabetes also have periodontal disease. In addition, people with periodontal disease have more trouble controlling their blood sugar levels, and treating gum disease can improve glycemic control for those with diabetes. And finally, one of every five healthcare dollars goes to treat people with diabetes, and treating the gum disease lowers medical costs for people with diabetes.
Other Oral-Systemic Heath Concerns
Again, according to AAOSH sources, 80 percent of all Americans have some form of periodontal disease, and half of us have periodontitis, the disease’s more serious form. Pathogens from the mouth that are particularly contagious have a role to play in the development and progression of heart attacks, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight.