Autoimmune Diseases and Oral Disease

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Autoimmune diseases are the result of the body responding in an inappropriate manner to normal tissues and/or substances present in the body, causing prolonged inflammation followed by tissue destruction.  The body is fooled and can’t recognize the difference between healthy tissue and disease.  The body, therefore, mounts an immune response (directs antibodies against its own tissues) against itself, as if allergic to itself.  The cause of this dysfunctional behavior is unknown, it may be caused by a drug or toxin or bacterial or viral infection or environmental exposure to foreign substances.  The result of the body’s inability to recognize the difference between normal tissue and disease results in destruction.  As we age, this alone causes our immune system to decline in effectiveness.  Autoimmune diseases affect over 24 million Americans and are one of our society’s leading causes of death and disability.  Autoimmune diseases are ranked as the number one cause of heart disease, cancer, and all diseases.

A couple of the most common autoimmune diseases are diabetes (Type 1), rheumatoid arthritis, and allergies.  Many autoimmune diseases also may have a genetic or traumatic component.

Here is a short additional list of autoimmune diseases and more are being discovered all the time.  All of these diseases should have the autoimmune prefix:

Achalasia Pancreatitis
Addison’s disease Parkinson’s disease
Behcet’s disease Pemphigus/pemphigoid
Celiac disease Pernicious anemia
Crohn’s disease Polymyositis
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Reactive arthritis
Dermatomyositis Rheumatic fever
Eosinophilic esophagitis Sarcoidosis
Fibromyalgia Scleroderma
Graves disease Sjögren’s syndrome
Guillain–Barre syndrome Systemic lupus erythematosis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis Ulcerative colitis
Hepatitis Uveitis
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Vitiligo
Menier’s disease Wegener’s granulomatosis
Multiple Sclerosis Wilson’s disease
Myasthenia gravis

 

Autoimmune Disease Causes:  The immune system is also thought to be suppressed by multiple factors, including abuse of:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • tobacco
  • sugar (this cannot be over-emphasized)
  • drugs
  • food (poor diet or contaminated with herbicides, hormones, etc.)
  • sleep (lack of)

As well as exposure to environmental pollution, including:

  • automobile exhaust
  • chemical fertilizers
  • cigarette smoke
  • heavy metal
  • herbicides
  • industrial waste
  • pesticides
  • stress

So, what has autoimmune diseases and oral disease (periodontal disease and tooth decay) have in common?  Well, much more than one might think:  Plaque and calculus left on teeth cause inflammation, initially gingivitis, followed often by periodontal disease (which we used to refer to as periodontitis).  Any time you see –itis on the end of a word, it is screaming inflammation.  Remember:  it is always means it is inflammation.  Chronic inflammation causes destruction of tissue.  Periodontal disease causes destruction of all periodontal tissues, gum, bone, and periodontal ligament, causing loss of teeth.  Tooth decay causes loss of tooth structure.  Since periodontal tissues are all tissues supporting teeth in the mouth, without them – no teeth.How periodontal disease (inflammation of all periodontal tissues) leads to loss at of oral tissues, including teeth, is a simple model demonstration for what happens to a body with autoimmune diseases.Anything that a patient can do to minimize or eliminate inflammation will lessen the effects of the disease.  A few of the things a patient can do to lessen the effects of many of these diseases are to avoid abuse of/or exposure to the above mentioned factors.  Also, as always, eat lots of antioxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables.  Include vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea extract, beta-carotene, grape seed-skin extract, coenzyme Q-10 (coQ10) and selenium in your diet.Also, talk to your dental and medical professionals on current treatments.  Find support groups, ask others with your particular autoimmune disease how they cope.Good luck…keep brushing and flossing,Dr. James G. Hood* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S.
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry Welcomes Patients
from Age 2 to 102!
James G. Hood, D.D.S., M.A.
507 North Sullivan Road, Suite A-1
Spokane Valley, WA 99037-8576  USA
Phone: (509) 928-9100  |  Fax: (509) 928-0414
Email: drhood@drhood.comWebsites: www.drhood.com
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