The Connection Between Periodontal Disease and Liver Disease
Our bodies are not simply the sum of disparate parts. They are all connected through multiple series of networks. Most of which do to not only connect to tissue but each other. All of these connections rely on each other to keep the body functional for as long as necessary. Specialists and people in general oftentimes take that connection for granted. We are so good at categorizing things that we forget about the existing connections. This is why we are looking into just how periodontal disease can affect other parts of the body.
Recap: Periodontal Disease and Inflammation
Inflammation as we know it is our body’s natural response for getting rid of a virus. “When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth.” This response only lasts until the bacteria is no longer a threat.
In the instance of periodontal inflammation, the exposure to the bacteria is constant. The bacteria that populate in plaque know to create their own colonies, burying itself in living tissue. Plaque also creates a protective layer of acid, known as a biofilm. This can overwhelm living tissue to the point where getting rid off it in the bloodstream is a nightmare for the immune system. Inflammation alone can’t get rid of them.
According to Doctor Richard Benveniste, a specialist in Tarzana, California, ” There are several theories that the periodontal inflammation connection may be due to an underlying protective inflammatory response in the body’s attempt to overcome the onslaught of the infiltrating pathogen.” This means that until there is no presence of a bacterial infection, the inflammation will keep going. What happens when the inflammation keeps going? It becomes chronic. When white blood cells realize that they are not getting rid of the bacteria, it will use more aggressive tactics. They will take out healthy tissue, cells, and organs.
But what does it have to do with the liver?
Inflammation and Liver Disease
For starters, there is a lot of evidence that supports a correlative relationship between fatty liver diseases and poor oral hygiene. According to a publication in Biomed Rep, ” In one study, researchers identified that patients with non-alcoholic cirrhosis exhibited a tendency to have a larger clinical attachment loss. This is in comparison with healthy volunteers. Notably, significant differences between healthy controls and patients with alcoholic cirrhosis were found in each age group. It has also been shown that patients with cirrhosis exhibited a worse periodontal status compared with healthy control individuals.”
Basically, when examining a group of people, scientists took notice that people with liver damage were more likely than not to exhibit bad oral health. In fact, when scientists noticed the link, they examined human and animal liver tissue and found the presence of P. gingivalis. The same bacteria responsible for tooth decay was in the liver. How did this happen?
It got in via the bloodstream.
How Bacteria get in the Liver
Our gums are not just tissue. There is a connection to the tooth and our jawbone through both the nervous system and bloodstream. Our liver is another organ that directly works with the bloodstream. Not only that, but the main responsibility of the liver is to remove toxins from our blood. So, what if there were some negative gram bacteria that managed to get that far? It will cause inflammation. The infected bloodstream will be trying to recover while filtering out the impurities at the same time. Which increases the chances of white blood cells damaging healthy liver tissue. If it is too unhealthy to handle the filtration and inflammation problems, due to something like obesity or tobacco use, it is less likely to stand a chance against the invading bacteria. Which leads to more damage occurring.
This makes periodontal disease much more of a threat to overall health than what most people thought even a couple of decades ago. While we are starting to get a more clear picture of how things are connected with one another, there is still a long way before we can determine specifics about the extent of the damage that periodontal disease can do to a person with poor oral health. However, one thing is certain. We need to talk more about dental hygiene and oral health as part of what makes our whole body healthy. We all need to educate as many people as possible to improve and save as many lives as possible.