As a nation, our oral hygiene is not where it should be. The National Institute of Dental Research states that 75% of the adult population has moderate to advanced periodontal infection (PI), 90% has some form of gingivitis and 30% of children have pathogenic microorganisms. Not good news for a healthy mouth! Read how Xylitol prevents oral bacteria.
Present research shows overwhelmingly the assertion that PI affects the rest of the body in dramatic ways. Germs enter the bloodstream from infected gum tissue, sometimes just by chewing. Routine oral-health practices such as flossing, using a toothpick or even brushing can open pathways for bugs. This does not mean we should abandon these good oral hygiene practices but it does show just how easily bacteria can enter the bloodstream.
Research studies associates PI with over 40 diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Heart disease is not the only serious systemic illness that research has correlated with gum disease. A diverse list of adverse health conditions have also been linked to the presence of Pl, including stroke, diabetes, ulcers, obesity, respiratory illnesses, osteoporosis and complications in pregnancy.
Stroke: The First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and its follow-up represent the first major study correlating cerebrovascular accidents (strokes) with PI. The study comprised adults, ages 25 to 74, having no PI to significant PI. The results were astounding: having Pl represented more than a 200% greater risk for total strokes and in particular, non-bleeding strokes.
The Department of Neurology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany discovered that poor dental status resulting from chronic dental and bone infection was associated with a stroke increase of two and one-half times over non-PI patients.
Diabetes: It was assumed that the association between Pl and diabetes was the diabetic patient’s compromised ability to respond to infectious challenges. Therefore, they were predisposed to bacterial infections such as Pl.
However, now the opposite possibility should be considered. “Diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease.” Dr. Robert Genco, chairman of Oral Biology Department at SUNYAB shows that treating Pl may reduce a diabetic’s blood sugar levels.
Stomach Ulcers and H. Pylori : Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a species of bacteria that is found in the stomach lining of 50% of all Americans and has been associated with-stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. It was discovered that H. pylori was present in infected gum tissue. Even when H. pylori was eliminated from the stomach with antibiotic therapy, it was not completely eradicated from the mouth, where it continues to grow in colonies deep within periodontal pockets. These pockets could be a source of re-infection for the stomach.
Obesity and Weight Loss: Researchers have found that the inability to lose weight is related to PI due to insulin resistance. Bacteria from gum disease may interfere with fat metabolism, leading to elevated LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
Dr. 0. A’cbay and his team discover that H. pylori in the stomach trigger the release of the hormone gastrin. Gastrin acts to stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, causing hyperinsulinemia, a serious condition that may not only result in diabetic complications and obesity but also put the heart at risk. Further studies are warranted to investigate whether eliminating H. pylori in the stomach can help in weight reduction.
Pneumonia and Respiratory Diseases: Bacterial respiratory infections may be acquired by inhaling fine droplets of oral fluids from the mouth and throat. These droplets contain germs, which can breed and multiply within the lungs. It is recognized that pneumonia and lung abscesses can result from the same bacteria that cause Pl. Dental plaque would seem to be a logical source of these bacteria, especially in patients with Pl.
Pregnancy: Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) have made an enormous contribution to understanding the correlation between PI and pre-term, low-birth-weight babies (PTLBW). Many factors, including hormones and locally acting inflammatory chemical messengers, play a key role in regulating the onset of labor, cervical opening, contractions and delivery. An infectious process appears to trigger either early labor or a premature rupture of membranes by placing undue stress on the immune system.
The study significantly correlated the presence of four organisms associated with mature dental plaque and progressing PI to the probability of having a PTLBW. The conclusion was that, after accounting for all of the normally accepted obstetric risk factors, mothers with PI have a significantly higher number of PTLBW.
Xylitol prevents Oral Bacteria
Xylitol increases saliva flow and alkalinity, bacteria in the mouth cannot replicate in the presence of xylitol, which helps neutralise the acids in food and cuts off ‘acid attack’. Xylitol can also strengthen tooth enamel and repair small emerging cavities. Chewing a xylitol based gum like PUR chewing gum stimulates saliva secretion and rinses away food particles sticking to the surface of the teeth.
If you are out, and there is no opportunity to clean your teeth after a meal, chewing sugar free gum, containing xylitol, helps to maintain good oral hygiene. It is a good short term solution.