THE MOUTH-BODY CONNECTION

THE MOUTH-BODY CONNECTION

Research has recently proven what dentists have long suspected: that there is a strong connection between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

Periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue, presence of disease-causing bacteria, and infection below the gum line. Infections and bacteria in the mouth can spread throughout the body and lead to a host of problematic health issues. Therefore, maintaining excellent oral hygiene and reducing the progression of periodontal disease through treatment will have benefits beyond preventing gum disease and bone loss. It can also save you from the chance of developing another serious condition.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND DIABETES

Diabetes is a serious, incurable disease that is characterized by too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Type II diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate insulin levels, meaning too much glucose stays in the blood. Type I diabetics cannot produce any insulin at all. Diabetes affects between 12 and 14 million Americans and can lead to a variety of health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.

Research has shown people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-diabetics. Diabetics with insufficient blood sugar control also develop periodontal disease more frequently and severely than those who have good management over their diabetes.

The connection between diabetes and periodontal disease results from a variety of factors. Diabetes sufferers are more susceptible to all types of infections, including periodontal infections, due to the fact diabetes slows circulation, allowing bacteria to colonize. Diabetes also reduces the body’s overall resistance to infection, which increases the probability of the gums becoming infected.

Moderate to severe cases of periodontal disease elevate sugar levels in the body, increasing the amount of time the body has to function with high blood sugar. Diabetics with periodontitis are most likely to suffer from increased levels, making it difficult to keep control of their blood sugar. Further, high glucose levels in saliva promote growth of gum disease-causing bacteria.

Blood vessel thickening is another concern for diabetics. Blood vessels function by providing nutrients and removing waste products from the body. When they become thickened by diabetes, these exchanges are unable to occur. As a result, harmful waste is left in the mouth and can weaken the resistance of gum tissue, leading to infection and disease.

Smoking and tobacco use is detrimental to anyone’s oral and overall health, but it is particularly harmful to diabetics. Diabetic smokers 45 and older are in fact 20 times more likely to develop periodontal disease than those who do not smoke.

It is very important for everyone to brush teeth effectively, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly, but it is especially essential that diabetics practice these measures. When teeth are left un-brushed, harmful bacteria can ingest the excess sugar and colonize beneath the gum line.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE, HEART DISEASE, AND STROKE

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty proteins and a substance called plaque build up on the walls of your arteries. This causes the arteries to narrow, constricting blood flow. Oxygen is restricted from traveling to the heart which results in shortness of breath, chest pain, and even heart attack.

The link between periodontal disease and heart disease is so apparent that patients with oral conditions are nearly twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those with healthy mouths. Periodontal disease has also been proven to exacerbate existing heart conditions. Additionally, patients with periodontal disease have been known to be more susceptible to strokes. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is suddenly stopped. This may occur, for example, when a blood clot prevents blood from reaching the brain.

One of the causes of the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease is oral bacteria entering the bloodstream. There are many strands of periodontal bacteria. Some strands enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries. This attachment leads to clot formation and increased risk to a variety of issues including heart attack.

Inflammation caused by periodontal disease creates an increase in white blood cells and C-reactive proteins (CRP). CRP is a protein that has long been associated with heart disease. When levels are increased in the body, it amplifies the body’s natural inflammatory response. Bacteria from periodontal disease may enter the bloodstream, causing the liver to produce extra CRP, which then leads to inflamed arteries and possibly blood clots. Inflamed arteries can lead to blockage, which can cause heart attacks or strokes.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Enacting positive oral hygiene practices and obtaining treatment for periodontal problems can help prevent the risk of developing this unfortunate condition.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND PREGNANCY

Pregnant women with periodontal disease expose their unborn children to a variety of risks and possible complications. Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes in women, which increase the likelihood of developing periodontal disease such as gingivitis, or gum inflammation. These oral problems have been linked to preeclampsia, or low birth weight of the baby, as well as premature birth. Fortunately, halting the progression of periodontal disease through practicing high standards of oral hygiene and treating existing problems can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease-related complications by up to 50%.

There are several factors that contribute to why periodontal disease may affect the mother and her unborn child. One is an increase in prostaglandin in mothers with advanced stages of periodontal disease, particularly periodontitis. Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing compound found in the oral bacteria associated with periodontitis. Because periodontitis increases the levels of prostaglandin, the mother may go into labor prematurely and deliver a baby with a low birth weight.

Another compound that has recently been linked to premature birth and low birth weights is C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a protein that has long been associated with heart disease. Periodontal disease increases CRP levels in the body, which then amplify the body’s natural inflammatory response. Bacteria from periodontal disease may enter the bloodstream, causing the liver to produce extra CRP, which then leads to inflamed arteries and possibly blood clots. Inflamed arteries can lead to blockage, which can cause heart attacks or strokes. Although it is not completely understood why elevated CRP also causes preeclampsia, studies have overwhelmingly proven that an extremely high rate of CRP in early pregnancy definitely increases the risk.

Finally, the bacteria that invade and live in the gum sockets in a diseased mouth can travel through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. For pregnant women, research has shown that these bacteria may colonize in the internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.

If you are pregnant, it is important to practice effective home care for preventing gum disease. We can help assess your level of oral health and develop preventative measures and treatment plans to best protect you and your baby.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND RESPIRATORY DISEASE

Respiratory disease occurs when fine droplets are inhaled from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can spread and multiply within the lungs to impair breathing. Recent research had also proven that bacteria found in the mouth and throat can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract and cause infection or worsen existing lung conditions.

Bacteria that grow in the oral cavity and travel into the lungs can cause respiratory problems such as pneumonia. This occurs mostly in patients with periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has also been proven to have a role in the contraction of bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition characterized by blockage of the airways, and caused mostly by smoking, has also been proven to worsen if the patient also has periodontal disease.

One of the reasons for the connection between respiratory problems and periodontal disease is low immunity. Patients who experience respiratory problems generally have low immunity, meaning bacteria can easily grow above and below the gum lines without being confronted by the body’s immune system. Once periodontal disease is contracted in this way, it will only progress and worsen respiratory issues.

Inflammation of the oral tissue has also been linked to respiratory problems. Oral bacteria causing the irritation can travel to the lungs, and contribute to the inflammation of the lung lining. This creates respiratory problems because it limits the amount of air that can be passed freely through the lungs.

If you are diagnosed with respiratory disease or periodontal disease, it is possible will work with your physician to plan how to best treat both conditions and eliminate further complications.

PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND OSTEOPOROSIS

Osteoporosis is a condition common in older patients (particularly women) that is characterized by the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, or when the body absorbs too much old bone. The leading cause of osteoporosis is a drop in estrogen in menopausal women or a drop in testosterone among men. Sufferers of osteoporosis must take extra care in daily activities, as they are at increased risk for bone fractures.

Because periodontal disease can also lead to bone loss, the two diseases have been studied for possible connections. Research found that women with periodontal bacteria in their mouths were more likely to have bone loss in the oral cavity and jaw, which can lead to tooth loss. Studies conducted over a period of 10 years also discovered that osteoporosis patients could significantly reduce tooth loss by controlling periodontal disease. Further, it was found that post-menopausal women who suffer from osteoporosis are 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease.

One of the reasons for the connection between osteoporosis and periodontal disease is an estrogen deficiency. Estrogen deficiency speeds up the progression of both oral bone loss and other bone loss. It also accelerates the rate of loss of fibers and tissues which keep the teeth stable. Tooth loss occurs when these fibers are destroyed.

Low mineral bone density is one of the several causes of osteoporosis. The inflammation from periodontal disease weakens bones more prone to break down. This is why periodontitis can be particularly detrimental and progressive to patients with osteoporosis.

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is extremely important to take preventative measures against periodontal disease to protect your teeth and oral bones.

ABOUT DR. JOHN FERRIN, DMD, MS

WHO WE ARE

Dr. Ferrin brings a wealth of cutting-edge periodontal training with him to Southern Oregon. Born in the mountains of Northern Utah and raised in Mississippi. Dr. Ferrin joined the U.S Army National Guard at the age of 17 and served for 14 years. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Biology with an emphasis in Physiology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and went on to earn his DMD at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. While attending dental school, he started a nationally recognized dental clinic to provide free dental care to Veterans in need. The clinic was named Sgt. Clint Ferrin Dental Clinic after his brother, who neglected his oral health due to several deployments. Sgt. Ferrin was later killed in action in Iraq in 2004. For his work in the clinic, Dr. Ferrin was awarded the ADA Foundation Award for student leadership.

Testimonials

What People are Saying

“Great Experience”

"Thank you Dr. Ferrin and staff for a first class experience. Everyday I examine the gum graft surgery spot and am so amazed at the difference. My gums are now very youthful and healthy looking!"

Larilyn G

“Highly Recommended”

"I never thought I'd need a gum graft (or that I'd write a review for one!), but thankfully, there is Ferrin Periodontics. Dr. Ferrin is kindhearted, empathetic, and highly skilled..."

Anna E

"It has been 10 years"

"I gave Dr. Ferrin and his staff a five rating for the family atmosphere and professionalism I experience every time I go there. I had a crown Lengthening procedure and I couldn’t be more please with the out come..."

Scott R

Ron Timen
Ron Timen
06:03 01 Oct 19
Such a friendly environment. The office staff are upbeat and help you dial down any nervousness. The procedure went incredibly well. Pain was virtually non-existent. Dr. Ferrin called that evening to check on me. Highly recommend this practice!read more
Julie Schamanek
Julie Schamanek
19:15 30 Aug 19
I would totally recommend Dr. Federal and his staff. I am an extremely nervous patient and they made me feel extremely comfortable. Thank you!read more
Linda Rodgers
Linda Rodgers
17:20 28 Aug 19
Saw Dr Ferrin for oral surgery and couldn't have been more satisfied with the experience. First off, when you visit the office it's quickly apparent that the staff is happy to be there and that translates to every part of your visit. They are all cooperating to make your care as good as possible, making sure at every moment that all your questions are answered and that you are comfortable. Dr Ferrin is highly professional with a wonderful and reassuring manner. To top it off, the office is absolutely beautiful and the exam rooms are obviously state of the art.read more
cyd hutton
cyd hutton
18:08 31 Jul 19
Dr. Ferrin and his entire staff are professional, respectful, and knowledgeable. We are all fortunate to have such high quality care.read more
Katharine Glasser
Katharine Glasser
01:49 25 Jun 19
For many years I was foolish enough to avoid dentists while working overseas. On returning home I continued to avoid them primarily because I was afraid of what I'd be told. Of course it can't be put off forever and at my first dental appointment I was referred to Dr.Ferrin for periodontal care. I was terrified, but it was so much easier than I was expecting. The staff were all friendly and helped me relax. They were patient, made sure I was comfortable, and never once made me feel guilty or stupid for not attending to my mouth sooner. Dr.Ferrin was very thorough and took the time to explain what he was doing, what he found, and what my options were. There was no rush or pressure for me to make a decision right away. Ultimately a care plan was agreed upon and the work started. There was a lot to be done, but it's now almost complete. I'm feeling good and best of all I have my smile back. Thank you Dr.Ferrin and all your staff for your excellent work and your caring attitude.read more
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
23:19 22 Jun 19
My experience with Dr. Ferrin and his team was great. He has exceptional bedside manner and my gum graft was as painless as it could be. The only downside is he’s a Kentucky Wildcat fan, but I would still see him again and recommend him to all my friends and family.read more
Linda Thompson
Linda Thompson
18:34 15 May 19
Dr Ferrin saved my teeth! After years of miss guided attention to my periodontal disease that allowed my condition to progress , Laser treatment year to date is a success. Now it's on going maintenance to keep my gums healthy. Dr Ferrin and his entire staff are personable and caring including Hygenist Heidi and September who are also skilled and very thorough . Honesty and integrity come to mind. Sincerely, Carleton Thompsonread more
Molly Quinn
Molly Quinn
02:52 06 May 19
Dr. Ferrin is a godsend. I switched over to him after an discouraging experience with the last periodontist that I met with. I was really nervous at first, but Dr. Ferrin and his staff were very kind and comforting towards me. They went out of their way to make me feel at ease. I’ve only had one appointment with Dr. Ferrin and I trust him. I would definitely recommend him to anyone if you have to have a dental procedure because he is the perfect example of a medical professional in that area.read more
Paula Ivie
Paula Ivie
22:19 23 Apr 19
Honest, informative, has integrity, professional, and great staff. The work we had done was high quality. We felt lucky to have found Dr. Ferrin. We drive 2.5 hours to have him do the work that needed to be done.read more
Easton Ferrin
Easton Ferrin
16:20 15 Apr 19
best periodontist i ever met. Super nice and good at his job.
Mike Barton
Mike Barton
00:06 20 Mar 19
September handled my quarterly cleaning today in a particularly human way. I have been suffering from a bad case of shingles on the right side of my head and she went out of her way to make my cleaning as painless as possible. Thanks again.read more
Steven Weskirchen
Steven Weskirchen
23:39 30 Oct 18
You can feel comfortable and secure that you are receiving the best treatment possible with Dr. Ferrin and his amazing team. I have needed multiple procedures, and have not always had the best experiences in a dental chair, -therefore I do know the difference. I instantly felt at ease when I walked into Dr. Ferrin's office. He is professional, sensitive, and shows a genuine passion for his work. I have never experienced a "specialist" who truly thinks in the grand concept for the health of his patients, instead of just completing the task he is trained to perform. This passion and professionalism trickles down to all the staff in his office. They are all friendly and upbeat, which further exudes that feeling of confidence and comfort; and are obviously happy to be a part of his team. They are well-trained in explaining a specific and detailed financial plan when necessary, and are always available to answer questions. THEY MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A PERSON, -NOT JUST A PATIENT. Dr. Ferrin does exceptional work, is empathetic, and we are truly blessed to have his service in our area. I felt compelled to share my positive experiences online for those who are apprehensive or just looking for re-assurance to get the best periodontal care possible. Dr. John Ferrin and his staff are awesome!read more
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MON: 7:00am - 3:00pm
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Ferrin Periodontics

John D. Ferrin, DMD, MS

2930 E Barnett Rd, Medford,
OR 97504, USA

PHONE: 541-779-4501

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