Gum Disease and Health Risks
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Gum Disease and Longevity
Gum Disease Can Shorten Life Expectancy
A great deal has been written about how gum disease can negatively affect so many aspects of your health. Now it’s time to connect the dots. Gum disease increases the risk of many diseases and is devastating to the immune system. When looked at in this way it isn’t so difficult to take it to the next level: the ultimate affect of moderate to severe gum disease is that it will reduce the length of your life!
To prove this assertion I will offer some insightful comments about the effects of dental disease on longevity, by Dr. Michael F. Roizen. In his classic book, Real Age: Are You as Young as You Can Be?, he offers a revolutionary and systematic approach to calculating the aging effect of more than 100 different health behaviors. These range from diet and medication, to stress control, and dental disease.
Gum Disease Increases Your Risk of Dying
Dr. Roizen cited a study that showed people with gingivitis and periodontitis have a 23 percent to 46 percent higher chance of dying than those who are free of this disease. Another study indicated that men under age 50, who have advanced periodontal disease, are 2.6 times more likely to die prematurely and three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who have healthy teeth and gums. Both studies considered other pertinent factors, such as smoking, alcohol, and overeating.
Dr. Roizen concluded that dental disease and tooth loss don’t just make you look older, they actually make you older. Indeed, periodontal disease can make our Real Age more than 3.4 years older. Conversely, the absence of periodontal diseases makes you 6.4 years younger than the median person. It is one thing to know that gum disease can increase the risk of many serious diseases but another to realize that it can actually shorten your life expectancy.
Gum Disease and Premature Death
Another noteworthy finding was that periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene were stronger indicators of premature death than of coronary heart disease. Young men who had a maximum oral hygiene index of 6 had a three to four times higher risk of dying sooner than those who had a hygiene index of 0 (0 indicating ideal oral hygiene and 6 poor oral hygiene). In addition, young men with periodontitis had a nearly threefold increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease and about a 50% increased risk of admission to a hospital for coronary heart disease.
The long-held belief that dental disease is a localized, minor disease of the gums and teeth has not withstood the test of time. The evidence supporting the role of dental disease in general health problems is conclusive. That alone is bad enough, but if gum disease is left unchecked, it can shorten life expectancy.
But there are always two sides to a coin and conversely if you eliminate gum disease you can expect to be healthier and live longer. Gum disease is not the only factor affecting your longevity but it is one of the easiest ones to deal with. The decision is yours.