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Missing Teeth and Disease

Although many people may not realize it, our physical health has a significant connection to our dental health.

While untreated periodontal disease is a no-brainer when it comes to a leading cause of tooth loss, physical ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis can negatively affect oral health as well.

In fact, here are three diseases that your dentist recommends keeping in check in order to improve general health and lower your risk of tooth loss.

Osteoporosis Linked to Tooth Loss in Older Adults

Although osteoporosis can affect any bone in your body, it most commonly affects the hips, spines, and wrists of older men and women. However, osteoporosis or “thinning bones” also may lead to bone deterioration and loss of your jawbone, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Studies have found a connection between jawbone loss and tooth loss. Without teeth to stimulate healthy jawbone growth, untreated tooth loss will eventually lead to jawbone decline. Conversely, adults with jawbone loss due to osteoporosis have an increased chance of tooth loss.

Diabetes Increases Risk of Tooth Loss

Americans with diabetes (approximately 8 percent) are at greater risk for tooth loss – especially those over age 50, according to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. In fact, those with diabetes had an average loss of 10 teeth, compared with fewer than seven for those without the disease.

Additionally, according to the ADA, 28 percent of diabetics had lost all their teeth. The reason, according to researchers, is probably high blood sugar, which can disrupt the delivery of nutrients and removal of debris from gum tissue. This eventually leads to periodontal disease, and over time, to tooth loss.

Hypertension

Dental experts believe that high blood pressure and tooth loss may go hand in hand. Research from the American College of Cardiology suggests that for every tooth you lose, you increase your chances of heart disease, including high blood pressure (hypertension).

Additionally, the National Institutes of Health notes that several studies find a link between periodontal infections and cardiovascular disease, especially stroke. While experts suggest the need for more research, at least two studies report connections between hypertension and periodontal disease, especially tooth loss.

Ultimately, there is a strong link between general health and dental health. Take care of your overall health by eating properly, getting plenty of exercise, brushing and flossing daily, and visiting your health care professionals regularly, and you give yourself a better chance of having good physical and dental health. Likewise, monitor and treat your health issues to help ensure you’re able to take a big bite out of life.

For more information, be sure to let your dentist about your over all medical and dental health.

Contributed by D. S. Hildebrand

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