February 26, 2018
Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion around the connection between the health of the mouth and your overall health. Some of the research has shown that poor oral health can actual lead to significant concerns, including heart problems, respiratory issues, blood sugar problems (diabetes), and even premature birth.
A lot of these connections are still theoretical, and research is ongoing. But the more we look the more reasons we have to really take care of our teeth and gums.
In one of the more recent studies, for example, there seems to be some evidence of a possible association between a periodontal pathogen (bacteria that usually lives around the gums) and a type of colon cancer.
There is a recent article by Dr. Richard Nagelberg in which he discusses what appears to be happening between the gums and the gut and what the implications are for us all.
Colon cancer is “a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide in both men and women,” according to the study on the PubMed website. (Morbidity is just another word for illness, so this means that colon cancer is a contributor to many deaths and sicknesses every year.)
Chasing Down the Bacteria
As many of you are aware, our bodies are filled with good and bad bacteria. the bacteria that live in the gut have been recognized as having a real connection to human health and sickness.
In this study, fusobacterium has been detected enough that the research suggests an association with colon cancer. However, it’s still not completely clear if the bacteria actually cause the cancer or if it just comes along for the ride. However, at the very least, it does seem to suggest that we could use fusobacterium as a sort of early warning sign of colorectal cancer.
The study cited in the article also had some interesting findings, such as how treatments with metronidazole seem to decrease the aggressiveness of this type of cancer.
How Does It Reach the Gut?
One of the many questions left to be answered is how the bacteria that is normally associated with the gums makes it to the gut in the first place – or if it really is the same bacteria and not a different strain. A series of DNA tests of oral fusobacterium and the bacteria found in the gut will eventually sort that question out, but at the moment we can’t completely say for sure.
In the other cases – such as heart disease – the bacteria get into the blood stream through the cuts in the gums or the other soft tissues could provide an entry point for those bacteria to go where they’re not wanted. Eventually, they could reach the heart muscles and begin to cause problems.
We don’t know if this is the case for fusobacterium and colon cancer, but, in both cases, the really important takeaway is that there is more and more evidence demonstrating a link between the health of the mouth and the health of the body.
What does this all mean to you, right now?
Keep up with your oral hygiene routines and never neglect your regular dental checkups and you may have an impact on your overall health and well-being, too.
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