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Oral Health and Systemic Diseases

Author: Ahmed Abbas


The mouth is often seen as the easiest access point to assess the health of the human body (Kiyak, 1981). This is because the mouth provides a lot of information that can be used to diagnose health issues, which can be directly or indirectly related to the mouth. Poor oral health is found to be linked to many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure (Kudiyirickal, 2015; Morrison et al, 1999).


Some of the relationships between oral health and certain diseases are known and can be explained. For example, the association between periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) and cardiovascular diseases. Periodontitis and gingivitis are chronic inflammatory diseases that result in breakdown of the bone that surrounds the teeth. This may be associated with an increased chance of developing myocardial infarction (Morrison et al, 1999). This occurs because chronic inflammation in the gums may cause inflammation in the cardiovascular system. This increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes (Morrison et al, 1999).


Diabetes mellitus and oral health have a similar relationship. Studies have shown a definite relationship between chronic inflammation from periodontal diseases and type 2 diabetes (Kudiyirickal, 2015). Additionally, the reverse can be true, with diabetes potentially worsening periodontal diseases (Kudiyirickal, 2015).


Oral health is a crucial indicator of systemic diseases and can be used to help in diagnosing and managing health. Therefore, it is important to have regular dental visits and to have collaboration between your dental practitioner and healthcare professional (Andersson et al., 2007).


Reference:

  1. Kiyak HA. Psychosocial factors in dental needs of the elderly. Spec Care Dentist. 1981 Jan-Feb;1(1):22-30. Available from: doi: 10.1111/j.1754-4505.1981.tb01217.x.

  2. ​​Kudiyirickal, M.G., Pappachan, J.M. Diabetes mellitus and oral health. Endocrine 49, 27–34 (2015). https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/10.1007/s12020-014-0496-3

  3. Morrison HI, Ellison LF, Taylor GW. Periodontal disease and risk of fatal coronary heart and cerebrovascular diseases. J Cardiovasc Risk. 1999 Feb;6(1):7-11. doi: 10.1177/204748739900600102.

  4. Andersson K, Furhoff AK, Nordenram G, Wårdh I. 'Oral health is not my department'. Perceptions of elderly patients' oral health by general medical practitioners in primary health care centres: a qualitative interview study. Scand J Caring Sci. 2007 Mar;21(1):126-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00446.x. PMID: 17428224.