Gum Disease & Prostrate Health

Posted on Apr 11, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

All bodies contain bacteria, some are even good for us. However, the human body was built to tackle the bad kind by sending white blood cells to battle the bacteria that can lead to infection. Although this is our body’s reaction to bacterial accumulation, some infection spreads beyond what white blood cells can handle.

This can be seen in a cut that goes unwashed and untreated. As bacteria multiply, inflammation sets in. This is what causes redness and swelling as white blood cells arrive to tackle the enemy. When the white blood cells are overwhelmed, an antibiotic may be needed to overcome the overload that the white blood cells cannot combat.

Systemic inflammation is similar, except it cannot be seen like the redness or swelling from a cut. This internal inflammation in the body can simmer without being obvious. With chronic inflammation, the reaction can’t turn itself off. While the white blood cells will back off when a cut heals, chronic inflammation inside the body continues for no reason.

Although invisible, this continual inflammation can contribute to a number of serious health problems. For example, research has found links between systemic inflammation and heart attacks, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers, preterm babies and even Alzheimer’s Disease.  Now, researchers have begun to take a closer look at periodontal disease, a bacterial infection in the mouth, as being a potential trigger of internal inflammation.

As oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, periodontal (gum) disease develops, thrives and spreads by eating away at gum tissues, tooth enamel and supporting bones. When the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream through weakened gums, inflammatory reactions can create destruction far beyond the mouth.

Research now shows a potential link between oral bacteria and Prostatitis, an infection of the prostate. Prostatitis, an inflammatory disease, causes a frequent urge to urinate and a burning sensation or pain during urination.

The connection between periodontal disease bacteria and Prostatitis was recently noted in a study conducted at Case Western University. Researchers from Case Western’s School of Dental Medicine and the Case Medical Center’s Department of Urology & Pathology found that the symptoms of Prostatitis could be greatly improved by treating gum disease.

In their study, all participants had moderate to severe levels of periodontal disease. Those in the study also had inflammation of the prostrate gland with higher than normal prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels.

During the study, one group of participants were treated for gum disease while having prostrate symptoms and PSA levels monitored. The other group received no treatment for their gum disease while prostrate symptoms and PSA levels were monitored. Neither group was given treatment for their prostate conditions during the study.

PSA levels were measured in both groups after one month and again after two months. Researchers noted an overwhelming majority with noticeably lower PSA levels in the group who received treatment for gum disease. Hopefully, these findings can help Prostatitis patients achieve better treatment results.

As studies continue, it is obvious that your oral health is closely connected to your overall health. By avoiding bacteria overload in the mouth, you reduce the risk of triggering inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Additionally, your smile will avoid problems that are time-consuming and expensive to treat.

Common symptoms of gum disease are tender gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, gums that turn red, gums that loosen from teeth and pus pockets that form at the base of teeth. If you have any of these symptoms, you should also know that periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.

Obviously, the potent bacteria of gum disease is nothing to ignore, as research continues to find links between it and serious health problems. Take good care of your body AND your smile! Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a thorough examination. If signs of gum disease exist, we can make recommendations for treatment to restore your smile to a healthy state.

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