common, from dry mouth to periodontal disease, and since oral health directly
impacts the health of the rest of the body, these issues need to be taken seriously.
Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as heart or
many diseases in the rest of the body have oral symptoms. With careful
examination of the teeth, gums, and tongue, dentists have found evidence of
heart or liver disease, eating disorders, diet deficiencies, anemia, diabetes,
arthritis, HIV, osteoporosis, and even some autoimmune diseases. “We’re now
realizing how they’re interrelat-ed,” explains Dr. Cynthia M. Carlsson,
assistant professor of geriatrics and gerontology at the University of
Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
recent studies show a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. In
fact, risk factors for periodontal disease and cardiovas-cular disease are
similar: smoking, stress, poor diet, excessive weight gain, and low exercise
levels. One study suggests that people with severe periodontal disease face
double the risk of fatal heart disease, and severe periodontal disease also is
associated with higher rates of stroke in some studies. And in certain
circumstances, a tooth infection has the potential to cause bacterial
endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart’s inner lining or the
heart valves. Bacteria in the bloodstream can lodge on the valves or damaged heart tissue, and it
could be serious enough to dam-age, or even destroy, the heart valves.
share risk factors with chronic degenerative diseases such as ulcerative
colitis, and lupus. If a patient has severe gum disease, they may be advised to
take antibiotics before undergoing invasive dental procedures such as gum
surgery or tooth extraction.
affect the mouth. For example, diabetes affects healing, so if a diabetic
senior has gum disease, it may take quite a bit longer to treat that gum
to overall health problems when taking care of elderly patients and encourage
be-haviors that will promote a healthy body from head to toes.
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