As this body of research surrounding the Oral-Systemic Connection has grown scientists from all directions have discovered that they are all looking at the same thing. Systemic inflammation is now considered to be one of the dominant common denominators in many of today’s major illnesses. We now know that increased pro-inflammatory proteins in the body (i.e. cytokines and chemokines) has profound life and death consequences.
• Pregnancy complications soar by a factor of 255% for women with gum disease. (Ask any physician about the oxytocic effects of increased PGE2 levels during pregnancy!)
• For diabetics, mortality in adults without gum disease rises from 3% to almost 28% when gum disease is present.
• C-reactive protein is now recognized as a more significant risk factor for heart disease and strokes than is high cholesterol levels.
• Cancers of inflammatory origin (colon), Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, and other diseases and conditions related to systemic inflammation are now entering this arena.
Suddenly, dentistry is beginning to take a more central role in the quest to identify and remove sites of chronic infection and inflammation within the body. This sudden increase in scientific literature and research is destined to continue to grow, no doubt snowballing its way onto the front stage of modern dentistry and medicine. Indeed, many physicians and medical specialists are aware of these changes, but many are as yet unsure what to do about it.
Physicians now find themselves in a particularly vulnerable spot. They will be held accountable by malpractice attorneys and the new standards-of-care, for people with gum infections – especially if they have heart attacks, strokes or have pregnancy complications or diabetes.