Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Health Linked to Oral Bacteria

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By James Gaffney

Mature Life Features

Dentists can tell a lot more about a patient’s health than merely whether they need a cavity filled. Researchers have found that oral bacteria in some instances have been associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and the birth of pre-term babies, according to Connie Hastings Drisko at Kentucky’s University of Louisville School of Dentistry.

The presence of antibodies to certain oral bacteria identified in the amniotic fluid and fetal-cord blood suggests that mothers with periodontal disease may be six to seven times more likely to have a pre-term, low-birth-weight baby.

Other associations between oral and overall health include:

— Heart Disease and Stroke: Data are emerging to support an associaotn with gum disease.

— Diabetes: Diabetics are at significantly higher risk for severe gum disease. When exposed to the same type of bacteria as non-diabetics, the gum tissue of diabetics becomes much more inflamed. Drisko said there are two potential pathways for severe gum disease and diabetes mellitus to co-exist. It is known that the treatment of diabetes will slow down the progression of gum disease and that diabetes is more easily controlled if the periodontal disease is treated.

“Dentists are well-versed in handling oral-health conditions, and currently help screen patients with diabetes,” said Drisko. “In the future, dentists may have an even more important role in screening for other conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, as the link is strengthened between oral and overall health.”

Mature Life Features Copyright 2002

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

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