February...the month of Sweethearts and abounding sweet treats! Today's BLOG takes a look at how sugar is of greater concern than just cavities. New studies are cosidering linking sugar related periodontal (gum) diseases to your overall health!
As sweet soft drinks and excessive sugar do increase the risk for dental decay, healthy eating habits need to be prioritized more, as researchers have now found that sugar not only increases the incidence of tooth decay, but also increases a person's risk for periodontal diseases as well.
Although most patients do know that sweet treats can cause cavities, sugar has not traditionally been associated with the development of gum diseases. It is true that back in the 1970s, two American researchers suggested that a diet which was high in carbs could be a common risk factor for both dental diseases as well as other associated inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. However, that knowledge was mostly forgotten until a new study was conducted that reviewed the past 50 years of literature related to sugar and inflammation.
Today, there is a general agreement that the above-mentioned diseases are associated with a high sugar intake. Researchers now feel that the link is based on the biochemical processes that take place in the bacterial deposits on your teeth whenever you add large amounts of nutrients to the bacteria, particularly when you eat sugar. They also now believe that periodontal diseases caused by sugar do belong to the same group of inflammatory diseases in line with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. In other words, if a patient has sugar related dental decay and in turn has sugar related gum disease, then the patient may unknowingly have increased their risk of other more serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease! As dentists, there is increasing evidence that it is more than simply stressing the avoidance of sugar for the prevention of dental decay. Healthy eating habits should be given a higher priority, especially if the goal is to avoid future and expensive treatment in the overall healthcare system!