Poor oral health a threat to your heart

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Wednesday, 20 March 2019

“The impact of poor oral health on various chronic diseases such as diabetes has been well studied. However, there are several other conditions that are associated with mouth diseases. One such association is heart disease and oral health,” said  Dr Neel Shimpi

PUNE: It is a well-known fact that oral health is important for the overall health of a person.   Nonetheless, poor oral health has been emerging as one of the major public health concerns in India with nearly 50 per cent of school children are suffering from tooth decay while 90 per cent of the adult population suffering from gum diseases, concludes a report published in 2016.

Similarly, according to the recent World Health Organisation report, poor oral health affects more than half of the world’s population, while severe gum diseases are estimated to be the 11th most prevalent disease globally.

Globally, March 20 is observed as World Oral Health Day and is an opportunity to raise awareness for oral health in a positive and inspiring way. “The impact of poor oral health on various chronic diseases such as diabetes has been well studied. However, there are several other conditions that are associated with mouth diseases. One such association is heart disease and oral health,” said  Dr Neel Shimpi, a Biomedical Informatics Scientist and a dental surgeon from India, working at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Wisconsin, USA.

She further added that cardiovascular disease often called heart disease has become the major cause of deaths in India. Statistics from 1990 to 2016 show that the death rates due to heart disease have increased by 34 per cent (155.7 to 207 /one lakh) in India. Evidence has also shown that gum disease may increase the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular event. The risk of developing these events is double or triple folded, in the presence of gum disease. Leading researchers globally are working towards solutions to decrease the burden of developing chronic disease by identifying the patient with the risk at an early stage using biomedical informatics tools,” she said. 

“Similarly, poor oral hygiene can lead to different mouth diseases such as tooth decay and gum diseases among others,” said the researcher. 

Shimpi and her team has been involved in investigating oral and systemic disease association and pursuing informatics research for more than six years. It is important that the medical and dental providers are aware of these oral and systemic connections, she said. 

The models of care include a team-based approach where healthcare providers proactively participate in delivering cross-disciplinary care. For example, these tools help the dental and medical providers to flag a patient at risk for developing these diseases. Dr Shimpi and her team are involved in creating different healthcare delivery care models using biomedical informatics that identifies a person at developing a risk for a particular disease thus offering a time duration to take appropriate measures to prevent the disease from occurring. Dr Shimpi recently published several book chapters surrounding various oral and systemic disease association in the Book titled Integration of medical and dental care and patient data.

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