According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, post-menopausal women with a history of gum disease are at a greater risk for death. The new research found that women who suffered periodontal disease and tooth loss after menopause had a 17 percent higher chance of death than those who didn’t.
The study was conducted by the University of Buffalo, which monitored the health of about 57,000 post-menopausal women over a period of seven years. Researchers found that women with gum disease were 12 percent more likely to die during this time. Their findings show that gum disease might be a warning sign of other life-threatening diseases in the body, like heart disease and type-two diabetes.
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New York cosmetic dentist Emanuel Layliev, DDS, says this study only confirms what dental professional already know. “The level of inflammation or swelling of the gums lead to systemic involvement, where the bacteria within the gums spread through the cardiovascular system throughout the body,” he says. “Thus, it’s important to not just worry about maintaining your teeth from a localized perspective, but also the effect that oral health has on the overall body since the gums are connected to the entire system.”
As far as the link between post-menopausal women and gum disease, Dr. Layliev says it’s due to the hormones released in the body during menopause. “A common link between gum disease and women with menopause may be the significant changes in the levels of estrogen, progesterone and C-reactive protein,” he adds. “Fluctuating hormone levels can cause inflammatory changes in the body that lead to periodontal disease, which can cause irritation and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.”
Dr. Layliev recommends consistent cleanings and oral health screenings to help detect and monitor gum disease. “It’s just like anything else, you have to maintain proper oral health as you do for the rest of your body.”
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