To most Americans, it’s not a big deal.
Most of us know someone over 60 that is still able to chew peanuts or other nuts using their teeth. But that isn’t the case in most third world countries, where oral hygiene and treating gum disease are not even in the top 10 priorities of most of the families there.
This is not simply a poverty or money problem. Some of the people with dental problems come from the families that could afford dental care. Thus aside from economic problems that affect most of the low income families, I believe ignorance is the biggest problem.
In January 2008, J. Sudiono of Trisakti University in Jakarta, Indonesia conducted an epidemiological survey to find features of degenerative diseases associated with loss of teeth in the elderly, and added another perspective to look into this problem. Her conclusion said: The loss of teeth was not associated with degenerative diseases, but may have been influenced by local factors such as a low demand for dental hygiene.
image by: red5standingby
The idea of writing this topic came up when I scanned the book, Reverse Heart Disease Now by Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and James C. Roberts, M.D. The next to last subsection talking about Oral Hygiene says that the bacteria and inflamation of common gum disease is linked to arterial inflamation. The pathogenic or disease causing bacteria migrate into the circulatory system and contribute to inflamation in the arteries.
This prompted me to dig into it further. However, what I found from the first two trusted sites that I visited really surprised me.
- American Heart Association came up with a bold statement, saying: “At this time, promoting dental treatment expressly to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and/or acute cardiovascular events is not recommended. “
- Mayo clinic described it best by telling its readers that oral health is the window to your overall health. However, Mayo Clinic seems to be a bit cautious too in connecting the oral health and Cardiovascular disease. Although in some research periodontal disease seems to be associated with heart disease, they wrote, more studies are needed before the link can be confirmed with certainty.
This made me ponder, how long will we have to wait to see the results? Fortunately, I found two other results as shown below and I believe, Time will tell:
- The first is a report from Sweden on a new study following 7,674 subjects receiving a dental examination by specialists in periodontology between the years 1976-2002. They came up with the following conclusion: This fairly large, prospective study with a long follow-up period presents for the first time a dose-dependent relationship between number of teeth and both all-cause and CVD* mortality, indicating a link between oral health and CVD, and that the number of teeth is a proper indicator for oral health in this respect.
- The second result I found in a Harvard Medical School Healthbeat flier. In step 9 of their advice on 10 steps toward a longer healthier life they said: Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly. Poor oral health may have many repercussions, including poor nutrition, unnecessary pain, and possibly even a higher risk of heart disease and stroke
My feeling is, we are going to see more and more new results like these. However, like the resistance to the discovery of Pennicillin, we are going to see the same kind of resistance from the main stream medical community in dealing with new findings and always become Johny comes lately. What do you think?
One thing I know for sure is that a 60 year old person in the U.S. is still able to chew peanuts because s/he has access to routine dental care. A dental office visit would take care of most of the dental problems. Biannual teeth cleaning is another source that makes all the difference. From gingivitis or gum disease to cancer and other oral health problems, many illness would easily be detected and treated before causing the teeth to wooble around which will prevent them from chewing peanuts or other nuts.
Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the time we take little convenient like able to chew peanuts for granted and sometimes we forget, how lucky we are with all these dental and medical cares. What do you think?
*CVD: Cardiovascular disease.