UB dentist leads international convention on oral health
SUMMARY: Dr. Michael Glick, the dean of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, recently championed a conference that dealt with the link between oral and overall health.
Posted: February 10, 2014
The world is getting a much-need schooling on oral health.
Dr. Michael Glick, who is the dean of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, recently led an event called, "The First International Quintessence Symposium on Oral Health: The Oral-Systemic Connection." The conference took place in San Diego on Feb. 7 and 8.
Glick's convention focused on the link between the health of the mouth and the health of the body. After all, the mouth is the gateway to the body. This means that the combination of how you take care of your smile along with which foods and beverages you consume not only play a role in big issues like weight gain - which attracts much of the health spotlight - but they also influence the well-being of your pearly whites.
Glick highlights that the convention provides an opportunity to review and divulge the latest scientific information on the association between oral diseases and systemic health.
"Over the past several decades, an impressive body of knowledge has accumulated about the impact of oral infections and overall health and well-being," Glick says. "Studies have found important associations that are now being evaluated for causative relationships."
According to the World Health Organization, 60 percent to 90 percent of school children and almost 100 percent of adults worldwide have had cavities. The biggest risk factors for oral diseases include an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, poor oral hygiene, harmful alcohol consumption and social determinants.
Specialists in oral health research from the United States, Canada and Europe attended a range of sessions at the conference, including: "The Cardiovascular System and Oral Infections," "The Association of Periodontal Disease and Diabetes," "Pregnancy Outcomes and Oral Infections" and "Obesity and Oral Health."
Mouth to body
This event marks a great opportunity to go over several mouth-body connections.
• Diabetes: Diabetes and gum disease work both ways. People with gum disease are more likely to develop diabetes, and diabetics have a greater risk for gum disease. Because diabetes alters how the body uses blood sugar, those with insulin sensitivity have a lowered ability to fight the bacteria that invades the mouth, leading to oral health infections, cavities and gum disease.
• Obesity: Obesity factors in to several oral health conditions, including cavities, periodontal disease and bad breath. The connection is perhaps more obvious than that between diabetes or heart health and mouth issues. Frankly, overweight people are known for grazing on food over extended periods of time. The longer teeth are exposed to sugars and other carbohydrates, the more susceptible they become to developing cavities or inflammation. Being overweight certainly ties in to cavity treatments.
• Cardiovascular disease: Heart disease and periodontal, or gum disease, have been tied through the build-up of harmful bacteria. When these bacteria accumulate along the gum lines, they can break off and enter the bloodstream. Besides creating more severe problems, the bacteria causes bad breath - that's why dentists and doctors point out that chronic halitosis may be a symptom of an underlying disease. Red, swollen gums and mouth sores could provide an opening for microbes to find their way into circulatory system, ultimately inflaming tissues that line the heart and possibly resulting in blood clots.