Systemic diseases and periodontitis
As more research comes to light, it’s becoming clear that periodontitis and various systemic health conditions are more closely linked than we could have ever imagined. But why do oral bacteria influence and exacerbate potentially life-threatening health conditions, and what does this mean for oral health professionals and patients?
Professor Iain Chapple will be exploring this and more in a lecture entitled “Death by co-morbidity: the role of periodontitis” at this year’s BSDHT Oral Health Conference (OHC).
Periodontitis and its impact
It has long been established that periodontal health has an impact on certain systemic conditions. However, what’s rarely explored by professionals is why this link exists and how periodontitis plays a role in co-morbidity of individuals. Co-morbidity is the term used when an individual has one or more additional conditions concurrent or co-occurring with a primary condition. For example, if someone has both diabetes and periodontitis.
Prof Iain Chapple says:
“The main thing I want to focus on in my session at the OHC is the impact of periodontitis on non-communicable diseases. These include cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, all of which could be significantly improved with better oral health care. I will be presenting a selection of studies that illustrate the links between periodontitis and these illnesses. A key research area that I will be presenting is one that measured the periodontal health of individuals who subsequently passed away. The figures are really clear and will hopefully allow delegates to see that periodontitis and the risk of an early death are intrinsically linked.
“I will also be looking at data collected by leading organisations such as the World Heart Federation and asking delegates to explore the information presented with me. This way we should be able to see that periodontitis is a significant health threat. Together, we can discuss ways to adjust patient education and focus on how we can make these threats known.”
Oral bacteria at work
So why does this link exist? In many cases, the reason that periodontitis can exacerbate these conditions is that with periodontitis, oral bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Prof Iain Chapple explains:
“When a patient has periodontitis, oral bacteria enter the bloodstream whenever they eat, brush their teeth or do anything that can trigger bleeding. Once these bacteria are in the blood, they activate an immune response from the white blood cells, leading to inflammation. Whilst everyone will have a small amount of this inflammation regardless of their periodontal health, over time this can become more pronounced and potentially lead to all manner of problems, including stiffened arteries and perhaps even the formation of certain tumours.
“One of the pieces of research I will be concentrating on in my session is a new selection of data regarding periodontitis and chronic kidney disease. This is the perfect chance to share with delegates new research that substantiates the theory that periodontitis plays a key role in the severity and mortality associated with the disease.
“I will be showing video resources and other visual information as I think this is the best way to illustrate the mechanisms behind this relationship. By seeing the mechanisms on video, it is much easier to appreciate the connection. I think this will help everyone understand not only why this relationship exists, but also why it’s so important that we help patients with periodontitis more than ever.”
Discover more at the OHC 2019
This year’s OHC programme has been specifically planned to include educational seminars that cover a wide array of different topics. These include sessions which focus on more clinical topics as well as those that address overarching ideas that are applicable to the industry as whole. This way, delegates can make their own educational pathway through the event, choosing the seminars which they believe are most pertinent to their interests so that they can tailor their learning experience.
Furthermore, the OHC is a great chance to mix and mingle with likeminded individuals, network with colleagues and connect with old friends. Alongside the programme, the exhibition will be showcasing all of the latest innovations and products from some of the top manufacturers and companies in the sector – perfect for finding some new tools of the trade to streamline your working life, as well as new solutions to help treat patients more efficiently and comfortably.
Prof Iain Chapple says: “I’m very excited about speaking at this year’s OHC. Dental hygienists and dental therapists are always happy to engage and interact with information, and this means that sessions are exciting and full of energy – I can’t wait!”
You can find out more about the OHC and register your place by visiting the BSDHT website: http://www.bsdht.org.uk/OHC2019
Image courtesy of Igor Rand
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