14 Medical Conditions With a Surprising Connection to Your Oral Health | Alexandria VA Periodontist

Alexandria periodontist, Periodontist near me

People learn early on that brushing and flossing can prevent cavities.

Nevertheless, many people don’t realize that dental health is critical to maintaining overall health, especially for those with certain medical conditions. Together, dentists and periodontists can help you keep your oral health in good condition to prevent future problems. If you have any questions, you can contact our periodontist office.

In recent years, health care has become increasingly focused on improving whole-person health. Poor oral health can exacerbate other conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, just as mental illness has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. In addition to improving overall health, routine preventive dental care can also reduce health care costs. According to a recent study by Cigna, those who receive consistent preventive dental care can reduce their total medical costs by 4.4% a year. Diabetes patients experienced even greater savings-an average of 12.25% per year.

These conditions have been linked to oral health, so patients with these conditions should visit their dentist regularly to receive the dental treatment they need.

Kidney Disease

A patient with kidney disease may be more susceptible to infections caused by severe gum disease because their immune system is weakened. Cavities and gum disease result in pain, difficulty eating, bad breath, and chronic inflammation, which can contribute to other medical conditions, such as heart disease. Furthermore, dental infections can delay a kidney transplant, making good oral hygiene essential.

Organ Transplant

Any organ transplant requires dental management. Doctors will ensure that patients do not have untreated infections or dental issues that could further complicate the procedure. After receiving anti-rejection medications, patients may have difficulty fighting bacteria and preventing infection.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Historically, oral health and rheumatoid arthritis have been connected; Hippocrates recommended pulling teeth to treat arthritis. Researchers believe rheumatoid arthritis may be triggered by an infection that causes inflammation in dental disease. Pain and stiffness can also cause jaw pain and make it difficult for people with arthritis to brush and floss.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is characterized by the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, which affects the function of the hands and arms. Patients with the disease have significantly more decayed teeth than those without. Additionally, grinding and clenching their teeth can lead to headaches, tooth fractures, and TMJ disorders.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Studies show that people with poor oral health are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Researchers believe that periodontitis and gingivitis bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain. Fatty plaques can block a blood vessel that leads to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. Strokes are caused when they cut off blood flow to the brain.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes dry eyes and mouth. A number of patients develop the condition as a complication of another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. People with Sjogren’s syndrome may find it difficult to chew certain foods, and brushing may be painful. Thrush can also develop as a result of the condition.


When diabetes is not well controlled, it may result in periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and bone supporting the teeth, which can result in tooth pain, bad breath, and tooth loss. Additionally, diabetes increases the level of sugar in saliva, which leads to thrush, a fungal infection that causes painful white patches in the mouth.

Head and Neck Cancer Radiation

For patients undergoing radiation treatment for head and neck cancer, dental treatment is also important. Radiation can cause mouth ulcers, damaged salivary glands, and dry mouth. Many patients suffer from loss of taste, while others experience jaw stiffness and loss of tissue and bone.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, weakens muscles and affects physical function, making brushing and flossing difficult. Additionally, saliva can cause plaque and bacteria to build up in the mouth, causing cavities, gum disease, and pneumonia.

Opioid Misuse and Addiction

Addiction to opioids has been shown to be more prevalent in adolescents and young adults. In particular, wisdom tooth extractions can lead to first-time exposure. 


Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause gum inflammation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in four women of childbearing age also has untreated cavities, and children whose mothers have high levels of untreated cavities are more than three times more likely to have cavities as well.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system, can cause stiffness in the jaw muscles, making it difficult to chew and swallow. Parkinson’s patients are also more likely to have bacteria associated with severe gum disease, which can enter the bloodstream.


Lupus patients are more likely to suffer from severe gum disease, as well as chronic ulcers and lesions on the lips, tongue, and mouth. The disease also attacks the salivary glands, so some of the medications used to treat it may cause dry mouth.

Regular dental care can often mitigate many of the oral side effects of these medical conditions, so patients should brush and floss daily, keep their dentist or periodontist in Alexandria informed of their health status, and schedule regular checkups. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our Alexandria VA periodontist office.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302

Can Your Gum Disease Lead to Cancer? | Alexandria VA Dentist

Alexandria VA dentist

There are many reasons to take care of your oral health. It is important to take care of your teeth so that you can chew, talk, and smile. Maintaining good oral hygiene is also essential to preventing conditions such as cavities and gum disease. 

Did you know that your oral health also plays an important role in preventing cancer? There is an undeniable link between gum disease and cancer. Studies have shown that gum disease not only affects your oral health but has also been linked to cancer. Whenever you have been referred to a periodontist for an evaluation, you should make an appointment as soon as possible.

Tufts University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers conducted a study that found advanced gum disease is associated with an elevated risk of cancer.

It is common for Americans to suffer from dental diseases such as cavities and gum disease. More than 80% of adults have at least one cavity by the age of 34, and 46% of adults aged 30 and older show signs of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dental plaque contains bacteria that produce acids that damage tooth enamel, causing cavities. Without treatment, tooth decay can lead to severe gum infection, which can spread to other parts of the body. Gum infection, or gingivitis, can lead to a more serious condition called periodontal disease, which results in loose gums, bone loss, and tooth loss. More than 70% of adults age 65 and older suffer from periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene, diabetes, a weakened immune system, and heredity are factors that can contribute to periodontitis.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, periodontal disease and cancer risk may be linked. Previous studies have found that advanced gum disease may increase cancer risk by 14% to 20% due to changes in immune response or the spread of harmful bacteria, but the authors of this study say previous studies have been limited. The authors highlighted the public health implications of oral health in light of the prevalence of periodontal disease.

Researchers analyzed dental data collected from 7,466 participants enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study in the late 1990s and followed until 2012. During follow-up, there were 1,648 cancer cases among study participants and 547 cancer deaths. Compared to participants with mild or no periodontitis, those with severe periodontitis had a 24% increased risk of developing cancer. In the study, participants without any teeth had a 28% increased risk of total cancer and an 80% increased risk of colorectal cancer. Those with severe periodontal disease had a doubled risk of lung disease.

According to first author Dominique Michaud, ScD, in a recent press release from Tufts University School of Medicine, this is the largest study looking at the association between gum disease and cancer risk using dental examinations to measure gum disease before cancer can be diagnosed. Michaud also noted that previous research has identified bacteria associated with periodontal disease in colorectal cancer tissues. More research is needed to evaluate whether periodontal disease prevention and treatment may reduce the number of cancer deaths.

According to the CDC, Americans spend over $113 billion a year on dental care, and they lose more than $6 billion in productivity as a result. Periodontists recommend brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, drinking fluoridated water, and avoiding tobacco products to maintain good oral hygiene.

Our periodontist in Alexandria VA wants to ensure that your overall health is taken seriously. Contact our Alexandria Periodontist today to schedule an appointment.

Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302