There is a vast amount of scientific research proving a direct link between periodontitis and serious health conditions that affect the rest of the body. So much research has been completed that really, it’s too much to cover in a single blog post. However, we want to stress that it is extremely important to keep up with visits to your dentist at Vero Implants and Periodontics to keep periodontal disease in check. The rest of your body will likely be healthier as a result, because periodontal disease can impact your health in a big way. Here’s a brief look at some of the ways periodontitis impacts your overall health.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontitis is an infection of the gum tissues. It’s characterized by infection below the gum line next to the teeth, disease-causing bacteria, and red or inflamed gums. The big health issue is that those disease-causing bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause problems throughout the rest of the body.
Heart Disease and Periodontitis
Research has shown that periodontitis can double a person’s risk of coronary heart disease. It also greatly increases the risk of stroke in patients. The bacteria from periodontal disease seem to bond or attach to fatty plaques in the bloodstream. If that plaque grows too large, it can clog an artery and lead to a heart attack or stroke. When that bacteria is brought under control by your periodontist, it slows the growth rate of plaque in the bloodstream as a result.
Diabetes and Periodontitis
Periodontal disease is a major risk for patients with diabetes. Diabetics are at greater risk of developing periodontitis, while periodontitis can make the diabetes worsen in the patient. The bacteria from periodontitis have been shown to dangerously elevate the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. This puts them at greater risk of serious complications and making their condition harder to control.
Pregnancy and Periodontitis
The mother’s overall health can have major impacts on her baby as it develops and grows in the womb. Due to the hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, women are at greater risk of developing periodontal disease during this time. Research has shown that mothers with periodontitis carry a greater risk of having complications with pregnancy. This can include low birth weight and premature birth for the baby. This is because the oral bacteria from periodontitis contain a labor-inducing hormone known as prostaglandin. The presence of too much prostaglandin due to untreated periodontal disease can actually trigger early labor.
Respiratory Disease and Periodontitis
Research has now shown that periodontal disease can actually increase the likelihood of developing certain respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis. When a person inhales, the bacteria in the mouth from periodontal disease can actually be carried directly into the lungs. There is a specific type of pneumonia that is directly caused by periodontal disease. The presence of these bacteria in the mouth also make patients more susceptible to bronchitis and emphysema. The symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — a disease characterized by blocked airway passages, also become worse for patients with periodontitis.
Osteoporosis and Periodontitis
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by bone loss as a person ages. It’s a condition that is more common in women as they age, due to hormonal changes and menopause. However, we are seeing more men affected by the condition these days as well. Bone loss is also a condition brought about by periodontal disease. This happens when the bacteria in the mouth attack the bone structures in the jaw. Researchers have found direct connections between osteoporosis and periodontitis, since both conditions lead to bone loss. Keeping osteoporosis under control and controlling its progression is easier if periodontal disease is treated and removed from the body.
As you can see, periodontal disease is a serious condition that can have wide-ranging impacts on the rest of the body. It’s not simply a pesky condition in the mouth that can be ignored. We should also note that periodontitis doesn’t simply go away on its own. If you’re experiencing inflamed or painful gums, it’s time to book an appointment with Vero Implants and Periodontics in our Vero Beach or Melbourne office. Your teeth and gums will look and feel better and the rest of your body will thank you for it! Contact us here or give us a call at 772.569.9704.