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What your patients are reading!

Partners In Prevention 1What follows are excerpts from popular article in a leading international newspaper called the Guardian. This article shows how and why your older patients are now more informed about their oral health, and why they say “overall health” is their primary reason they sit in your waiting room.

“In the past decade, there has been an explosion of new research linking oral health to illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The most likely explanation is inflammation; the same heat, swelling and discomfort you experience when you stub your toe or get an infected splinter, only in this case it isn’t switched off. Such chronic inflammation can be damaging to cells and the DNA they contain. “Inflammation seems to be associated with far more diseases than we’ve traditionally thought,” says Francis Hughes, professor of periodontology at King’s College London.

So, where does this inflammation come from? One of the main reasons we brush is to remove plaque, a sticky matrix of bacteria and the waste materials they secrete. Plaque is bad news for several reasons: some of the bacteria living in it produce acid that erodes tooth enamel and causes cavities. But other types of bacteria also flourish within plaque, and they can trigger inflammation in the tissues surrounding the teeth.

Perhaps the strongest mouth-body association found so far is between gum health and cardiovascular disease. In 2007, D’Aiuto published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that deep-cleaning teeth and gums under local anaesthetic resulted in healthier, more elastic arteries six months later. Then, in 2012, the American Heart Association published a statement confirming that periodontal disease is associated with atherosclerosis – a condition whereby arteries become clogged up by fatty substances – even after common causes such as socio-economic factors and smoking are taken into account.

There is also emerging evidence of a direct link to diabetes. In May, D’Aiuto published a study in PLoS One assessing the impact of treating gum disease in people with Type 2 diabetes. It concluded that gum treatment reduced general levels of inflammation, which could have implications for patients’ ability to control blood glucose. Other small studies have hinted that periodontal therapy may actually lower blood-sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.

The links between gum disease and cancer are more circumspect. “It’s plausible, but it’s not at all clear what the precise mechanism might be,” says Hughes. Chronic inflammation is one possibility; it makes cancer-causing mutations more likely to occur, and it may also fuel cell-division. But a study published in Immunity earlier this year also hinted that a bacterium implicated in gum disease, Fusobacterium nucleatum, can reduce the ability of the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells.”

So, consider this. Your older patient is now more informed about good oral health than ever. What kind of services are you going to offer these folks?

For more, please visit: http://partnersinprevention.ca/what-your-patients-are-reading/.

By: Ross Perry
SOURCED: Partners In Prevention – http://partnersinprevention.ca

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