Dental Disease & General Health

Dental Disease & General Health

There is a direct link between your dental health and your medical health. For years many dental and medical experts have speculated on the relationship between dental health and systemic health but and recent evidence tends to supports a direct link. The evidence supports the link in two general categories:

  1. If you are prone to dental disease you increase your risk of a variety of general medical problems.
  2. Treatment of dental disease may also successfully treat a medical problem.


Some of the links/relationships established to date:

  1. Link between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease
    "Patients with periodontal disease were one and a half times more likely to have coronary heart disease and almost two times more likely to die from coronary heart disease and almost 3 times more likely to have a stroke." (Beck J.D. et al, Journal of Periodontology, 67:1123-1137, 1996)

    "If we treat periodontal disease in patient's who have had a heart attack, we will markedly decrease the incident of a second heart attack." (The link between periodontal disease and vascular events supported by ongoing studies at University of North Carolina, Boston University, Oregon Health Sciences, University of Maryland.)
  2. Link between oral disease/conditions and pre-term pregnancy risks and complications
    "Mothers with periodontal disease was the strongest risk factor of all associated with per-term low birth weight. Almost 7.6 % higher risk." (Offenbacker S, et al Journal of Periodontology, 1103, 1996)

    "There can be an 82 % reduction in preterm low infant birth weight with the treatment of periodontal disease." (Jeffcoat MK, Journal of Periodontology, 74, 2003, Michalowicz BS, New England Journal of Medicine, 356, 2006)
  3. Link between periodontal disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  4. Link between periodontal disease and hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia
    "Oral care will reduce pneumonia in older patients in nursing homes with a significant 50 % reduction in death rates in subjects who had their teeth cleaned after each meal by a care giver." (Yoneyama T., Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 50:430. 2002)
  5. Link between periodontal disease and diabetes
    "New and emerging research indicates that treatment of periodontal disease may reduce blood glucose levels and thus decrease the amount of insulin required in diabetic patients." (Taylor et al 2004, Kiran et al 2005, Mealey and Klokkevold 2006, Engebretson et al 2006)
  6. Link between periodontal disease and kidney disease or renal insufficiency
  7. Link between periodontal disease and pancreatic cancer
    "If an individual had periodontal disease, they were 64 % more likely to develop pancreatic cancer." (Michaud DS., Joshipura K., Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 99:1-5, 2007, Harvard School of Public Health)
  8. Link between early childhood caries and failure to thrive
  9. Link between early childhood caries and delay in achieving developmental milestones


Dental Disease and Medicine

The theories related to the mechanism that may explain the link between dental disease and medical are:

  • Concept of the contribution of dental disease and the bacterial load on the system.
  • Bacteria and soluble bacterial products can enter the blood stream and reach distant sites.
  • Inflammatory mediators produced with dental disease can enter the blood stream