What do diabetes and heart disease have in common with oral health? Yes, they are increasing in prevalence, and yes they are top causes of mortality. But there's more, and you may not have any idea:
All three – oral health, diabetes and heart disease – are completely intertwined.
It should have been obvious for years, but studies are just now drawing clear lines of connection between the three. Oral health, incidentally, is at the crux of it all. And it's completely possible to use essential oils to stop the root cause of diabetes and heart disease.
Atherosclerosis is Rooted in Oral Health
Where we once were told that cholesterol in the foods we eat could dredge through our arteries and clog them like sewage, we now know that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with blood serum cholesterol. On the other hand, researchers evaluated over 600 senior citizens who had no prior incidence of cardiovascular disease and found a definitive link between periodontal bacteria and thickening of the arteries. (2)
The connections had been made a full ten years prior, when a Clinical Microbiology Reviews article explained possible mechanisms for this connection between oral health and heart disease. (2) They explained the connection as one of three metastatic instances:
The theory of metastatic infection introduces detrimental bacteria to the bloodstream from the mouth, infecting the entire body. Metastatic injury is explained as that same bacteria producing exotoxins that “are considered the most powerful and lethal poisons known.” And finally, metastatic inflammation is simply the inflammatory response to oral health, which has promising implications since inflammation is one of the most prominent – if not the most prominent – cause of heart disease.
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Diabetes & Oral Infections
With these pathways and connections in mind, the leap to diabetes is not unreasonable. In fact, another ten years before these three mechanisms were detailed, researchers from New York were issuing their own concerns. If you are keeping track, we have now traced the alarms all the way back to the 1990s!
“Diabetes is a risk factor for severe periodontal disease…In this model, the combination of these 2 pathways, infection and AGE-mediated cytokine upregulation, helps explain the increase in tissue destruction seen in diabetic periodontitis, and how periodontal infection may complicate the severity of diabetes and the degree of metabolic control, resulting in a 2-way relationship between diabetes mellitus and periodontal disease/infection. This proposed dual pathway of tissue destruction suggests that control of chronic periodontal infection is essential for achieving long-term control of diabetes mellitus.” (3)
Oral Health – Diabetes and Heart Disease Axis
Heart diseases and stroke are the No. 1 causes of death and disability among people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, at least 65% of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.
Diabetes patients can reduce their risks of heart disease by keeping their illness in check, but it takes more than stable glucose levels. The lines between risks and results of diabetes and heart disease are blurred, including:
- High cholesterol and fat levels
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Overweight and obesity
With diabetes and heart disease interwoven and oral health centered squarely behind each, we clearly see the importance of conscientious and holistic attention to oral health.
We've failed the public and each other by not making the connection between diabetes and heart disease clearer in nearly 30 years of research. It's time to set our sights on complete wellness and effective disease prevention!
Stop Gum Disease with Essential Oils!
It's a safe bet to assume that most Americans don't consider oral health problems as one of our major health epidemics. But it is. The most recent data reveals that: (5)
- Half of American adults over the age of 30 have periodontal disease – otherwise known as “gum disease.”
- Nearly all of these cases – 42% of the total adults in our country – have reached moderate to severe levels, risking decay to the point of tooth-loss and bone-loss.
- When we look at older adults, at least 65 years old, the incidence rate jumps to over 70%.
Yet, somehow, the American public remains completely oblivious to the severity of the problem – our health rotting quite literally under our noses without an eyebrow raised. The media, public health officials, and even doctors are strangely silent on the connection between the prevalence of both gum disease and major chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
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Oral Health & Chronic Illnesses: Diabetes and Heart Disease
It's less a question of what is connected to oral health than what isn't. Poor oral health is implicated in many chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis – even low birth-weight for premature babies! (6, 7, 8)
The cycle perpetuates itself, with oral health disturbances noted as a cause of chronic, systemic illness and chronic illness causing poor oral health.
Even the most insidious diseases are intertwined with oral health deterioration, such as cancer, HIV, and pneumonia, which may require ventilators. (9)
Gum Disease Demystified
While gum disease is chronic, infecting not only the gums but the bones beneath them, and can ultimately cause tooth loss and more severe chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, it is widely preventable and hardly complicated. Simple oral hygiene practices can change the course of periodontal disease substantially.
In addition to the inherent dangers of conventional oral health treatments, some other risk factors that can increase chances of gum disease include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Broken or defective fillings
- Poor-fitting bridges
- Dry mouth, especially caused by medication
- Pregnancy, contraceptives, and other hormonal changes
- Crooked teeth
- Underlying immune deficiencies
With poor oral hygiene as a significant contributor, however, natural solutions such as essential oil applications can turn it all around.
Simple Gum Disease Prevention
With the list of risk factors in mind and a focus on whole-body health, oral hygiene can become a primary focus for prevention of gum disease. It isn't complicated or costly to take care of your teeth and gums. Simply build the following habits:
- Brush thoroughly, each time you eat
- Floss each day, preferably at night
- Find and visit a holistic dentist for regular check ups
- Make your own oral hygiene products
Even the most natural of oral health care products found on the shelves can be loaded with preservatives and additives that add nothing but risk. Protect yourself and your family by making oral hygiene a DIY project.
These are some of my favorite oral health care recipes that are sure to keep your family smiling bright.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a food processor.
- In a separate container, add your chosen essential oils to the carrier oil and mix well.
- Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the food processor gradually until well blended. Mixture should be granular and slightly damp.
- Store in a glass jar with a lid.
* No matter what allergies you may have, there's a carrier oil that's right for you. You can use any, or a combination of these: Avocado, Fractionated Coconut, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Sweet Almond.
* Essential oils are great for oral health and these are some of our favorite blends:
- 3/4 cup of distilled filtered water
- 1/4 cup 190 proof alcohol
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 2 drops of essential oils or blend of your choice
- Mix your essential oil into a glass with the 190 proof alcohol and then mix in baking soda.
- Fill glass with distilled water.
- Swish in your mouth and rinse.
- Store for up to a month before discarding and making a fresh batch of mouthwash.
See some of our favorite essential oils for diabetes here.
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