Dr. Jordan Colby spoke about “Oral and Systemic Health” at the March Woman of Wellness program. Colby said he considers his topic “exciting, thrilling, riveting” because of the connection between oral diseases and other conditions in the rest of the body.
Colby explained that pathogens and bacteria found in the mouth not only cause mouth cancer, gum disease, tooth loss, dental decay and bad breath, but also directly correlate to lung disease, strokes, heart disease and diabetes.
He said his passion “is to teach people how to prevent disease.”
“One of the best investments is preventative care,” he said.
Colby went on to say that the relationship between dentists and physicians is non-existent. He shared a video of a doctor learning that one source of blood pressure problems and diabetes is inside the mouth.
Any inflammation inside the mouth is a burden on the rest of the body, Colby explained. Inflammation is the cause of heart attacks, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions. Chronic inflammation leads to cardiovascular disease, he added.
The three leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Going into more detail, he said that heart attacks and strokes are caused by atrial inflammation caused by high-risk pathogens which directly correlate to periodontal disease. These are “medical problems with a dental solution” he said.
Colby said saliva not only carries DNA but also pathogens. He shared slides of the various stages of periodontal disease and what different bone- gum measurements mean. A measurement of 3-4 millimeters is healthy; 5-6 millimeters is gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. A measurement of 7 millimeters is a moderate case of periodontitis, while 8-10 millimeters is advanced.
In gum disease, pathogens first destroy the gum tissue and later destroy the bone, traveling from the mouth to the heart and throughout the body.
Colby explained that a million bacteria together form biofilm. The only way to remove it from teeth is through scaling and root planing.
“The immune system is resilient, fighting wars you will never know,” Colby said. “Bleeding gums means the body is going to war.”
He added that the gum is like a receding hairline; nerves shrink from periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is also connected to diabetes as the pathogens in the mouth that cause it and the resulting inflammation also make our bodies less responsive to insulin, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Colby said pathogens can travel from the mouth to other parts of the body, causing a knee infection or even a brain aneurysm. Up to 50 percent of acute heart attacks are caused by oral infection, he said.
“The beautiful message is it is 100 percent treatable and preventable,” Colby said.
To avoid pathogens causing cavities in the first place, he recommended brushing, flossing and rinsing twice a day. Using little dental brushes instead of floss is OK, he said, “as long as you use it. The simpler the [method], the more likely you will use it.”
Besides proper home care, it is also important to have a dentist and hygienist that you trust, Colby advised.
When asked about the policy of giving patients antibiotics before dental work that policy was changed in 2015, he said and added that unless a physician is adamant, no antibiotics should be given before a cleaning unless the person has a congenital heart defect. The overuse of antibiotics is a greater risk than a risk of infection.
Colby ended his talk by quoting the Mayo brothers from 1910: “A person with a healthy mouth will live 10 years longer.”
The next Woman of Wellness program will be held June 1 with the topic: “The Sugar Habit: Why We Start and Can’t Stop. How to Kick It.” Presented by the Fallbrook Regional Health District, the event is held at Fallbrook Library, 124, S. Mission Road.