Numerous studies have presented that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications, osteoporosis and respiratory disease.
Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue that is characterized by chronic inflammation. The inflammation and infection is located in the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth. Stopping the progression of periodontal disease and maintaining excellent dental hygiene will reduce the risk of gum disease re-occurrence, but also reduce the chances of developing other serious illnesses.
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
It is well known that people who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections than non-diabetes sufferers. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a progressive condition that often leads gum, bone and tooth loss. Periodontal disease begins with a bacterial infection in the gum tissue. As the bacteria explode in numbers, the gum pockets become deeper, the gums withdraw as tissue is destroyed by bacterial toxins.
Scientist know the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease can worsen both conditions if either condition is not properly controlled. In other words, the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. Both diseases are thought to share a common pathogenesis that involves an enhanced inflammatory response that can be observed at the local and systemic level. In addition, it is also possible for periodontal disease to serve as a metabolic stressor that may intensify diabetes disease. The risk of periodontal disease is increased by approximately threefold in diabetic individuals compared with non-diabetic individuals
Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
Periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke are connected as researchers have found that periodontal disease patients are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease. In addition, research studies have discovered that oral infection is indeed a risk factor for stroke. People diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to also be experiencing some degree of gum disease.
Sore, swollen and inflamed gum tissue is a sign of periodontal disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and jaw bone. The more bacteria in your body will result in more inflammation. It is inflammation that is one of the largest factors that cause damage to blood vessels, including those in the heart. Furthermore, studies show bacteria found in periodontal disease spreads to the heart and the bacteria play a role in strokes. The presence of periodontal disease can worsen existing heart conditions.
- Oral bacteria – There are many different types of periodontal bacteria. Oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the heart blood vessels (coronary arteries). This attachment then contributes to clot formation causing serious danger to the individual.
- Inflammation – Periodontal disease causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue. This elevates the white blood cell count and the high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. C-reactive protein levels rise in the blood in response to inflammation. This inflammation increase throughout the body has been linked to heart disease.
- Infectious susceptibility – Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth. This creates a huge burden on the immune system. The immune system is ramped up but the infection is actually outside of the body. Therefore, the immune system cannot fight the bacterial infection of gum disease. Patients who experience particularly high levels of oral bacteria usually have weaker immune systems and an irregular host inflammatory response.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
Studies show that periodontal disease in expectant mothers exposes their unborn child to many different risks. Pregnancy causes numerous hormonal changes which increases the risk of the expectant mother to develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) and periodontal disease. These oral problems have been linked in many research studies to preeclampsia, low birth weight of the baby and premature birth. Preeclampsia can cause blood pressure to rise and put expectant mothers at risk of brain injury. Preeclampsia can impair kidney and liver function, and cause blood clotting problems, pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs), seizures and, in severe forms or left untreated, maternal and infant death. Expectant women should seek immediate treatment for periodontal disease in order to reduce the risk of pre-natal and post-natal complications. Pre-mature babies with a birth weight of less than 5.5 pounds may be at risk of long-term health problems such as delayed motor skills, social growth, or learning disabilities.
- Prostaglandin – Periodontal disease appears to elevate levels of prostaglandin in mothers who are suffering from advanced periodontal disease. Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing compound. Increased levels of prostaglandin can cause the mother to give birth prematurely and deliver a baby with a low birth weight.
- C – reactive protein (CRP) – This protein, which has been previously linked to heart disease, has now been associated with harmful pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia and premature birth. Periodontal disease raises C-reactive protein levels and intensify the body’s natural inflammatory response. Periodontal bacteria may enter the bloodstream causing the liver to produce CRP. This can lead to inflamed arteries as well as possible blood clots. These inflammatory effects can cause blocked arteries causing strokes or heart attacks.
- Bacteria spread – The bacteria which infect the gum tissue can readily travel through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. In pregnant women, studies show that oral bacteria have colonized in the internal mammary glands and coronary arteries.
Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a common metabolic bone disease that frequently occurs in postmenopausal women, and occurs less frequently in men. Osteoporosis is categorized by bone fragility, low bone mass and a reduction in bone mineral density. Research has explored and identified a link between periodontal disease and osteoporosis. One study showed that post-menopausal women who have osteoporosis were eighty-six percent more likely to also have periodontal disease. Osteoporosis working in connection with periodontal disease can make the bone degeneration of the mouth much more severe. The severity of the effect of gum disease is becoming a strong gauge for the presence of osteoporosis elsewhere in the body.
- Estrogen deficiency – Estrogen deficiency follows menopause and also speeds up the loss of jaw bone. The reduction of estrogen accelerates the rate of attachment loss of the gum tissue.
- Low mineral bone density – The inflammation from gum disease makes weakened bones more susceptible to bone loss. This is why gum disease and bone loss is more aggressive in patients with osteoporosis.
Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease
Periodontal disease (gum disease) has been linked to respiratory disease through recent studies. Scientists have determined that periodontal disease can exacerbate conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Plus, gum disease can actually play a causal role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema. Bacterial respiratory infections occur due to the breathing in of fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs.
- Bacterial spread – The specific type of oral bacteria that causes gum disease can easily be drawn into the lower respiratory tract. Once the bacteria are established in the lungs, it is easy to pneumonia and intensify serious conditions such as COPD.
- Low immunity – Patients who experience chronic or persistent respiratory problems suffer from low immune system levels. The decreased immune system allows oral bacteria to bury itself above and below the gum line without being confronted by the body’s immune system. Therefore, this accelerates the development of periodontal disease. Plus, it also increases the risk of developing emphysema, pneumonia and COPD.
- Smoking – Smoking is thought to be the main cause of COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions. Tobacco use damages the gingiva and compromises dental health. Tobacco use impairs the healing process, makes gum pockets grow deeper and accelerates tissue loss.