It turns out that our dental health and oral microbiome play a major role in cardiac disease, Alzheimer’s and longevity.
If you have 20 teeth or less by age 70, your chances of dying earlier increase dramatically. I had a discussion with Dr. Robert Sicurelli, DDS and Dr. Adam Bear, DDS who are leading prosthodontists and periodontists in Southampton. They explained that gum disease is linked to general health problems like heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and dementia.
The overgrowth of one particular oral microbiome bacteria P. gingivalis was linked to Alzheimer’s. Many people worldwide did not have regular dental visits and cleanings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of cases of gum disease and untreated cavities have surged throughout the world. Many oral health diseases are preventable through proper brushing and flossing after every meal and regular cleaning and check-ups at your dentist.
I had a blood test a year ago and my C-reactive protein was elevated, which is a marker for inflammation. There was no obvious reason for this inflammation.
My dentist, Dr. Sicurelli, and periodontist, Dr. Bear, noticed that I had swelling above my tooth and diagnosed a failed root canal that was done in New Jersey 10 years ago. They immediately sent me to Dr. Joubert, a highly competent endodontist in Wainscott, who re-treated the tooth.
The inflammation disappeared and my C-reactive protein blood test went back to normal six weeks later.
I mention this because this may have led to more serious systemic medical issues over time.
The bottom line is to take care of your teeth and gums. Brush, floss and use water picks at your dentist’s recommendation; and avoid eating and drinking sugary foods for excellent dental health.
Think positive and test negative.
Peter Michalos, MD is an FAAO board-certified ophthalmologist, a clinical associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a Southampton resident.