Your oral health linked to whole-body health, study finds

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A new study from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, highlights a significant link between self-reported poor oral health and serious health issues, similar to those diagnosed with gum disease.

This research, led by Yau-Hua Yu, an associate professor of periodontology, delves into the connection between oral health self-assessments and systemic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

The study utilized data from two major sources: the Women’s Health Study, which monitored women aged 45 and older starting from 1992, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which included oral health data and mortality links from 1999 to 2018.

By analyzing self-reported oral health alongside diagnosed periodontal disease, the team aimed to uncover the impact of oral health on overall systemic health.

Findings revealed that individuals who reported poor oral health experienced similar levels of systemic health issues as those with confirmed periodontal disease. Additionally, habits such as infrequent dental visits or not flossing regularly were linked to higher mortality rates.

This research is pivotal as it underscores the utility of simple oral health questions in assessing health conditions, especially in large-scale studies where clinical dental examinations are not feasible.

The importance of access to dental care was also examined, with data showing a significant number of participants from both studies had not visited a dentist within the past year, correlating with poorer health outcomes.

Yu’s work doesn’t end here; she plans to further investigate these findings in different populations, including veterans, through collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The study calls for increased inclusion of dental health questions in national health surveys and biobanking efforts to better understand the relationship between oral health and overall long-term health outcomes, emphasizing the societal need to address dental care access gaps.

If you care about gum health, please read studies about an important causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and common tooth disease that may increase risks of dementia.

For more information about gum health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing this diet could help treat gum disease.

The research findings can be found in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

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