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Gum disease increases the risk of blindness 

PAGE 33 ARTEDENTAL

If the list of diseases associated with periodontitis was long (cardiovascular problems, diabetes and some types of cancer), a study by the University of Augusta, USA, has discovered why this pathology is associated with the loss of vision and even blindness, as numerous studies had shown.

Periodontitis is known as gum disease or pyorrhea. Its symptoms begin with the inflammation of the gums and its subsequent bleeding. If left untreated, it can become chronic by retracting the gums and causing bone loss, which can lead to numerous pathologies, some of them fatal. Until now it was known that it was also related to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), although the causes were unknown.

The National Eye Institute defines AMD as a disease that affects the clear central vision needed to perform the activities in which you have to look directly forward such as reading, sewing and driving. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows small details to be seen, although it does not cause pain.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an institution that encompasses more than 90% of the professionals of this branch in the United States, many elderly people develop macular degeneration as part of the natural aging process of the body, and is the main cause of the loss of vision among those over 60 years. What’s more, along with glaucoma and cataracts, it is the biggest cause of blindness in the entire world.

Pachiappan Arjunan, director of the research, said of the study during the XLVII Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR): “It is the first to demonstrate the association between infection by an oral patobiont and the pathogenesis of the DMAE; and that “Porphyromonas gingivalis” (the bacterium) can invade the epithelial cells of the human retinal pigment and increase the expression of genes related to AMD. “This bacterium and its characteristic symbiont, that is, living in symbiosis in the oral cavity, when it comes in contact with the human retinal pigment, it can infect it, but the result of the research only shows an association (carried out between cell and animal cultures), not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Another reason to visit the dentist

 It is a paradox that visits to the dentist decrease with age, if over time increases the risk of oral diseases. “The association between DMAE and blindness with periodontitis is one more reason to take the annual reviews at the dentist very seriously, especially by those over 50 years of age,” explain the professionals at the Artedental clinic in Tenerife. “Periodontitis is one of the most frequent diseases, and of course the reviews are fundamental for its prevention, as well as to detect it in time and not to become chronic.”

According to the Spanish Society of Periodontics (SEPA) at the last Congress of Periodontics and Oral Health, held in April, 80 percent of Spaniards over 35 have some periodontal disease. A study carried out by the University of Bristol also concludes that “the number of people affected by tooth decay and gum disease is having a widespread and devastating impact, particularly in the older population “.