Macedon Family Dentistry: Dentists Dr. Lisa Spinello, Dr. Joseph Behrman & Dr. Jeni Behrman
Gum Disease and Your Health
Research studies have shown that there is a strong association between periodontal disease or gum disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory disease.
Periodontal disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gum tissue, periodontal infection below the gum line and a presence of disease-causing bacteria in the oral region. Preventing and stopping the progression of periodontal disease and maintaining excellent standards of oral hygiene will not only reduce the risk of gum disease and bone loss, but also reduce the chances of developing other serious illnesses.
Common disease conditions associated with periodontal disease:
Diabetes: Numerous research studies have shown that individuals with pre-existing diabetic conditions are more likely to either have, or be more susceptible to, periodontal disease. Gum disease can increase blood sugar levels which makes controlling the amount of glucose in the blood difficult. This factor alone can increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Also, diabetes thickens blood vessels and therefore makes it harder for the mouth to rid itself of excess sugar. Excess sugar in the mouth creates a breeding ground for the types of oral bacteria that cause gum disease.
Heart Disease: There are several theories which explain the link between heart disease and periodontitis. One such theory is that the oral bacteria strains which exacerbate periodontal disease attach themselves to the coronary arteries when they enter the bloodstream. This in turn contributes to both blood clot formation and the narrowing of the coronary arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack.
A second possibility is that the inflammation caused by gum disease causes a significant plaque buildup. This can swell arteries and worsen pre-existing heart conditions. An article published by the American Academy of Periodontology suggests that patients whose bodies react to periodontal bacteria have an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Pregnancy Complications: Women in general are at increased risk of developing periodontal disease because of hormone fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Research suggests that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease are more at risk of preeclampsia and delivering underweight, premature babies.
Studies show that periodontitis increases levels of prostaglandin, which is one of the labor-inducing chemicals. Elevated levels prostaglandin may trigger premature labor, and increase the chances of delivering an underweight baby. Periodontal disease also elevates C-reactive proteins (which have previously been linked to heart disease). Increased levels of these proteins can amplify the inflammatory response of the body and increase the chances of preeclampsia and low birth weight babies.
Respiratory Disease: The bacteria linked with gum disease has been shown to possibly cause or worsen conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Oral bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract when you breathe in and settle in the lungs—causing bacterial infections. Studies have shown that the repeated infections which characterize COPD may be linked with periodontitis.
In addition to the bacterial risk, inflammation in gum tissue can lead to severe inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which aggravates pneumonia. Individuals who suffer from chronic or persistent respiratory issues generally have low immunity. This means that bacteria can readily settle beneath the gum line because the body will not fight it.
Osteoporosis: A study conducted at the University of New York at Buffalo in 1995 concluded that post-menopausal women who suffered from osteoporosis were 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease. Though studies are still being conducted in order to further assess the extent of the relationship between osteoporosis and periodontal disease, the researchers have connected gum disease to estrogen deficiency and low mineral bone dentistry.
Estrogen deficiency accompanies menopause and also speeds up the progression of oral bone loss. The lack of estrogen accelerates the rate of attachment loss (fibers and tissues which keep the teeth stable are destroyed). Low mineral bone density is thought to be one of several causes of osteoporosis, and the inflammation from periodontal disease makes weakened bones more prone to break down. This is why periodontitis can be more progressive in patients with osteoporosis.
At Macedon Family Dentistry, we care about your overall health and your smile. If you have questions or concerns about periodontal gum disease and the mouth-body connection, or if you are looking for a Macedon dentist, Fairport dentist or Palmyra dentist, please give us call.