Collaborative study1,2 64,379 people’s medical records found that patients with periodontal disease had a 37% higher risk of developing mental illness. A research team from the University of Birmingham also found that 60,995 had gingivitis and 3,384 periodontitis.3 Data from these individuals were compared to 251,161 healthy individuals without any record of gum disease.4
The researchers took into account confusing factors such as smoking habits, ethnicity and body mass index. In addition to determining the number of people with and without gum disease who also had mental health disease, they analyzed the data to determine the number in the same groups who developed cardiovascular disease, cardiometabolic disorders, or autoimmune disease.5
Gum disease increases the risk of mental health disorders
They found that patients with a history of gum disease at baseline were more likely to be diagnosed with one of the medical conditions over the next three years compared with healthy controls. The risk of mental health disease increased by 37%, autoimmune diseases by 33% and cardiovascular diseases by 18%.
The lowest risk condition was cardiometabolic disorder, which increased by 7% and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes by 26%. One of the researchers, Dr. Joht Singh Chandan of the University of Birmingham, commented on the results of the study and the importance of the information in a press release:6
“Poor oral health is extremely common, both here in the UK and around the world. As oral ill health progresses, it can lead to a significant reduction in quality of life. Until now, however, little has been known about the combination of poor oral health and many chronic diseases, especially mental ill health.
We conducted one of the largest epidemiological studies of its kind to date, using primary care data in the United Kingdom to examine the link between periodontal disease and several chronic conditions.
We have found evidence that periodontal disease appears to be associated with an increased risk of developing these associated chronic diseases. Because periodontal diseases are very common, the increased risk of other chronic diseases can be a significant public health burden. ”
One researcher also noted that the findings suggest that effective communication between dental professionals and primary care providers could help improve treatment plans that focus on oral health and overall patient health.
Common types of gum disease
Since 2009, data on the prevalence of periodontal disease (gums) in the US show that 30% to 47% of the US population has some degree of periodontal disease,7,8,9 which is called a growing epidemic.10
Researchers in Birmingham included patients who had either gingivitis or periodontal disease,11 two of the largest diagnoses of gum disease. The data revealed a link to medical conditions that are associated with an inflammatory response. Others have found that this mechanism is also associated with neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers,12 which may be due to a chronic inflammatory reaction in the body.
Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease.13 Your gums turn red and swell. They also bleed easily when cleaned with a brush or thread. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. In this state, the plaque spreads below the gum line. Bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gum tissue and cause an inflammatory response.
As the disease progresses, the gums separate from the teeth. The growth of bacteria in these pockets helps destroy more gums and bones that support the teeth. Eventually, your teeth may loosen and fall out. Other types of periodontal disease include:
- Aggressive periodontitis – It is a destructive disease that involves multiple teeth, rapid progression, early onset and the absence of systemic disease.14
- pregnancy gingivitis – It occurs during pregnancy and is associated with hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.15 Changes in what you eat during pregnancy and the amount of saliva produced can also increase the risk of gingivitis.
- pericoronitis – This condition is common in adults aged 17 to 24 years. It occurs where wisdom teeth normally pass through the gums and is triggered by an infection on or around a partially punctured tooth.16 This leaves a flap of tissue that can collect food particles and lead to infection. The best preventive strategy is regular brushing and flossing.
- Desquamative gingivitis – It is a rare and painful type of periodontal disease that affects the outer layers of the gums. The tissue appears red, glazed and easily torn, causing bleeding.17 The cause may be mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP), oral lichen planus and pemphigus vulgaris. Endocrine disorders, such as those during menopause, can also trigger the condition.
The data also link gum disease to an increasing number of chronic diseases
Caroline Aylott of Versus Arthritis commented on the importance of the results of the Birmingham study because they concern patients with arthritis, especially autoimmune conditions. She said:18
“Some of the biggest problems with arthritis, especially autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which affects 400,000 people in the UK, are the ability to know who is more at risk of developing it and to find ways to prevent it. Previous studies have shown that people with RA were four times more likely to have gum disease than their non-RA counterparts and tend to be more severe.
This research provides further clear evidence why health professionals need to be vigilant about the early signs of gum disease and how this can have far-reaching consequences for human health, reinforcing the importance of a holistic approach to treating people. ”
Past studies have supported the evidence from that study. For example, one study19 published in 2001 with 1,412 participants found that 62.5% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis had advanced forms of periodontal disease. They concluded that moderate to severe gum disease increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and vice versa.
Later studies20 in 2010, they discussed specific oral bacterial infections that appeared to be associated with RA. The data linking periodontal disease and heart disease are less consistent. This study found a strong link, as did other studies21,22 and literary reviews.23,24 However, other papers25,26 did not find a positive association.
Several mechanisms have been proposed27 explain the relationship between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. These include infection of atherosclerotic plaques by pathogens in the gums, systemic spread of proinflammatory compounds from gum disease, the effect of periodontitis on the lipid profile or its contribution to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The study also found an association between gum disease and cardiometabolic disease.28 This is a group of medical conditions that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.29 These are the consequences of metabolic syndrome, which is a constellation of symptoms that include the following:30
- Belly fat
- High blood pressure
- Decreased glucose tolerance
- High triglycerides
- Low density lipoproteins (HDL)
One study31 evaluated the medical records of 572 industrial workers who had medical and dental records from 2003 to 2012. The evaluation of records in 2003 showed normal cardiometabolic values.
The researchers then compared the duration of periodontal vesicles, which are a symptom of gum disease, with the progression of cardiometabolic risk factors over nine years. They found that chronic gum disease was significantly associated with these risk factors and suggested that cardiometabolic disease may increase in patients not treated for periodontitis.
Steps to protect the gums and brain
Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist who uses holistic approaches to taking care of your oral health and your overall health. In this short video, it encourages you to think of your mouth as a “guardian” of your gut health and as a reminder to keep your gut microbiome balanced and healthy.
Your gums don’t care. Consumption of processed foods and foods high in carbohydrates increases the growth of bacteria in the mouth and the risk of gum disease. The first step to consider is optimizing your diet for oral health and mitochondrial function by reducing carbohydrate intake.
American Dental Association32 recommends brushing twice a day with a soft bristle brush and replacing it every three to four months. You should also regularly use dental floss between your teeth to remove plaque.33 While these are the basic steps for oral care, there are several others you can take to help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and protect your overall health. For example, you will want to:
• Monitor your vitamin D, K2, magnesium and calcium levels – These nutrients act synergistically and help protect your gums, teeth and bones. Calcium strengthens your bones and improves the overall health of the skeleton, but it only works when it is in the right place. Vitamin K2 directs calcium into the bone and prevents it from accumulating along the walls of blood vessels.
According to Lin K2, it helps to mediate inflammation of the intestines in two ways:34 by reducing the number of fibroblasts that stimulate gum disease and by activating the Matrix GLA protein, which prevents calcification of the periodontal ligaments in and around the body.
Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of inflammatory diseases and is associated with a higher risk of periodontal disease.35,36 You can maintain the optimal level by exposing yourself to the sun. If you can’t keep the serum level37 between 40 ng / ml and 60 ng / ml38 you may want to consider supplementation.39
• Monitor your vitamin C status – One study40 from the University of Washington found that if your gums bleed, you may be deficient in vitamin C. They reviewed data from 15 studies in 6 countries and found that baseline levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) were below 28 μmol / L, supplementation helped reduce bleeding gums. They concluded:41
“Consistent evidence from controlled clinical trials suggests that setting requirements for human AA based on scurvy prevention leads to plasma AA levels that may be too low to prevent an increased tendency for gum bleeding.
The gingival and retinal bleeding trends are consistent with low plasma AA levels and may therefore reflect systemic microvascular pathology, which is reversible with increased daily AA intake. “
• Stop using fluoridated products – It is important to optimize your oral microbiome. Antibacterial and fluoridated products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, floss and fluoridated water, negatively affect your oral microbiome.
You don’t want to have a “scorched earth policy” in your mouth, destroy all bacteria and hope that these good beetles will return, says biological dentist Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry. In principle, good beetles have a better chance of creating a healthy balanced microbiome when you disrupt, denature or dehydrate them with alcohol and chemical products.42
• Consider downloading oil – A gentle and easy way to help reduce plaque, gingivitis and bad breath is to use coconut oil. According to Ayurvedic tradition, oil pulling can improve more than 30 systemic diseases, including reducing inflammation and bleeding.43
Coconut oil is antibacterial and antiviral and contains 92% saturated fats,44 49% of these are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial lauric acid with a medium-chain saturated fat.45 A scientific study also suggested that oil pulling with coconut oil reduces plaque formation and reduces the risk of gingivitis.46,47,48