T he mouth is a complex environment. Each component is designed to work with the others for oral function that contributes to whole body wellness. More than teeth, gums, and tongue reside in your mouth, though. It is also home to hundreds of strains of bacteria, some of which lead to periodontal disease if allowed to overpopulate. Dana Point, CA dentist, Dr. Mark Cruz, urges all patients to consider the seriousness of gum disease. Here he discusses potential risks for men, in particular.
Bacteria are living single-cell organisms termed prokaryotes. Their internal DNA floats in a twisted mass called a nucleoid, protected by an outer cell wall and an inner membrane. Whip-like tendrils on the outside of bacteria help them move through their ecosystem and attach to host surfaces - in the case of oral bacteria, your teeth and gums. Bacteria multiply quickly, since a “parent” organism can copy its own DNA, doubling in size, and pushing a “baby” out into the world. Because of this fast fission or budding, your body has about ten times more microbial cells than human ones.
Periodontal disease describes the inflammatory response to oral pathogens of gingiva (gum tissue) and connective tissues. While many different strains of bacteria can illicit this response, those most commonly associated with gum disease are Treponema denticola and Porphyromonas gingivalis. When bacteria come in physical contact with mouth tissues, their endotoxins, enzymes, and antigens penetrate gums. The immune system reacts with inflammation - a defense mechanism that tries to isolate and eliminate foreign agents.
While this science experiment is occurring in your mouth, you may notice bad breath, bleeding when your brush and floss, or puffy, discolored gums. Eventually gums loosen into pockets around teeth that allow bacteria to move deeper into ligaments and bone. Without treatment, you can count on losing your teeth . . . and possibly worse health issues.
People with gum disease are at increased risk for a growing list of serious health concerns including:
Inflammation is the common thread between these chronic health problems and gum disease. The same type of response that happens in the mouth seems to occur systemically, as inflammatory substances build up in the blood stream.
More than 56 percent of the male population has periodontal disease, compared to jut 38.4 percent in females. This may be related to negligent home hygiene, fewer dental visits, or hereditary factors. Regardless, gum disease can have disturbing consequences for men.
Prostate-specific antigen or PSA is an enzyme secreted in small amounts by a healthy prostate gland. When the prostate becomes inflamed, PSA rises, potentially leading to prostate cancer. Studies show that men with gum disease have higher PSA levels, supporting the link between gum health and prostate health.
Prolonged, chronic inflammation damages blood vessels. In addition to the impact on cardiovascular health mentioned above (and note that one in every four male deaths in this country is attributed to heart disease), this can also be the root cause of impotence. Research shows that men younger than 30 and older than 70 who have gum disease, are at increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
Men with gum disease are also 14 percent more likely to end up with cancer than those with healthy mouths. Periodontal disease makes a guy 49 percent more apt than a woman to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent for pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent for blood cancers.
Dr. Cruz shares this information to help you understand the vital nature of caring for your mouth. It begins with a comprehensive examination at Mark A. Cruz DDS in Dana Point, CA. If periodontal disease is present, Dr. Cruz works with you to develop a personalized improvement and maintenance strategy of professional treatment and home care. Call (949) 661-1006 to schedule an appointment.