Brush your teeth, save on Kleenex.

Who knew that teeth were such devious little buggers?

Periodontal disease is like the Stewie Griffin of maladies: small, easily overlooked, but man, when he gets mad, watch out.

Gum disease has already been linked to heart disease, impotence, cancer, and even artificial joint infections. But that’s not the end of it.

In 2011, an estimated 29.6 million adults were living with non-diagnosed sinusitis, an estimated 12.8% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sinusitis occurs when the air-filled spaces behind your forehead, nasal bones, cheeks and eyes (known as sinuses) become blocked, preventing the mucus from draining and causing bacteria and other germs to build up. Sinusitis can be caused by something as benign as allergies or a common cold, or more serious conditions like a deviated septum or nasal polyps.

As far back as 1996, scientists were already examining the links between periodontal disease and sinus inflammation or infection. A study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (say that last word 5 times fast) by J.J. Abrahams and R.M. Glassberg of Yale School of Medecine’s Department of Diagnostic Radiology, showed that patients with known periodontal disease were twice as likely to have maxillary sinusitis, and that the two were causally related.

The maxillary sinus is the largest of the paranasal sinuses, and also the closest to the molars of your upper jaw. As mentioned in a previous post, our mouths are teeming with bacteria. When you “forget” to brush your teeth, that bacteria accumulates in the gaps between your gums and your teeth, causing inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). The longer that goes untreated, the more likely you are to develop periodontal disease (periodontitis).
Periodontal disease causes the gums to recede from the teeth, creating little pockets – the bacterial equivalent of a white picket fence in the suburbs.
Because the maxillary sinus is so close to these little bacterial hideaways, infection is more likely.
Another study, conducted by the Oral Health Group and aptly billed as “A Review for the Dental Practitioner,” explained that the physical proximity between the maxillary sinus and the mouth should also be of concern to dentists because sinusitis is often misdiagnosed as dental disease.
As such, the study recommended that dental practitioners study up on the “anatomy, physiology, and pathology of this complex region.”

If undertreated or ignored, regular sinusitis can develop into something chronic, which is definitely not something you want.

The bottom line? Brush your teeth.

And just for kicks, watch Stewie battle a tooth ache on “Family Guy”:

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