Periodontal Disease & Other Conditions
There is a strong connection between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue, presence of disease-causing bacteria, and infection below the gum line. Infections and bacteria in the mouth can spread throughout the body and lead to a host of problematic health issues.
Maintaining good oral hygiene and reducing the progression of periodontal disease through treatment will have benefits beyond preventing gum disease and bone loss. It can also reduce the chances of developing another serious health condition.
- Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
- Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
- Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
- Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease
- Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis
Diabetes is a serious, incurable disease that is characterized by too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Type II diabetes occurs when the body is unable to regulate insulin levels. Too much glucose stays in the blood. Type I diabetics cannot produce any insulin at all. Diabetes affects between 12 and 14 million Americans, and can lead to a variety of health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.
Research has shown people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-diabetics. Diabetics with poor control develop periodontal disease more frequently and severely than those who have good control over their diabetic condition.
Diabetes reduces the body’s overall resistance to infection, including periodontal infection.
Moderate to severe cases of periodontal disease can elevate blood sugar levels. Smoking and tobacco use is detrimental to anyone’s oral and systemic health, but is particularly harmful to diabetics. Diabetic smokers 45 and older are 20 times more likely to develop periodontal disease than those who don’t smoke.
Maintaining excellent oral health is particularly important for diabetics.
Coronary heart disease occurs when atherosclerotic plaque build up on the blood vessel walls. This causes the arteries to narrow, constricting blood flow. Oxygen is restricted from traveling to the heart, resulting in shortness of breath, chest pain, and even heart attack.
Patients with periodontal disease are nearly twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those with healthy mouths. Periodontal disease has a negative effect on existing heart conditions.Patients with periodontal disease have also been shown to be more susceptible to strokes.
One of the causes of the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease is oral bacteria entering the bloodstream. The same bacteria that are responsible for periodontal disease are significant culprits in cardiovascular disease.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Enacting positive oral hygiene practices and obtaining treatment for periodontal problems can help prevent the risk of developing this unfortunate condition.
Pregnant women with periodontal disease expose their unborn children to a variety of risks and possible complications. Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes in women, which increase the likelihood of developing periodontal disease such as gingivitis, or gum inflammation. These oral problems have been linked to low birth weight of the baby, as well as premature birth. Fortunately, halting the progression of periodontal disease through good oral hygiene and treating existing problems can help reduce the risk of those problems up to 50%.
Finally, the bacteria that invade and live in the gum sockets in a diseased mouth can travel through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.
Respiratory disease occurs when fine droplets are inhaled from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can spread and multiply within the lungs to impair breathing. Recent research had also proven that bacteria found in the mouth and throat can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract and cause infection or worsen existing lung conditions.
Bacteria that grow in the oral cavity and travels into the lungs can cause respiratory problems such as pneumonia. This occurs mostly in patients with periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has also been proven to have a role in bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition characterized by blockage of the airways, and caused mostly by smoking, has also been proven to worsen if the patient also has periodontal disease.
Inflammation of the oral tissue has also been linked to respiratory problems. Oral bacteria causing the irritation can travel to the lungs, and contribute to the inflammation of the lung lining. This creates respiratory problems because it limits the amount of air that can be passed freely through the lungs.
Osteoporosis is a condition common in older patients, and particularly women. It is characterized by the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, or when the body absorbs too much old bone. The leading cause of osteoporosis is a drop in estrogen in menopausal women, or a drop in testosterone among men. Sufferers of osteoporosis must take extra care in daily activities, as they are at increased risk for bone fractures.
Because periodontal disease can also lead to bone loss, the two diseases have been studied for possible connections. Research found that women with periodontal bacteria in their mouths were more likely to have bone loss in the oral cavity and jaw, which can lead to tooth loss. It was found that post-menopausal women who suffer from osteoporosis are 86% more likely to also develop periodontal disease.
Low mineral bone is one of the several causes of osteoporosis. The inflammation from periodontal disease weakens bones more prone to break down. This is why periodontitis can be particularly destructive to patients with osteoporosis.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is extremely important to take preventative measures against periodontal disease to protect your teeth and supporting bone.