Periodontal Disease Can Be Related To More Serious Health Issues
As science begins finding out more about the human body, we are starting to see just how holistic the entire system is. Problems in one area of the body – dental decay and periodontal disease in the mouth, for instance – can have negative effects on other parts that initially seemed unrelated.
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Periodontal Disease & Heart Disease
As plaque builds up in your mouth, the gums can become inflamed. This is a condition known as gingivitis. You may have also heard this referred to as “gum disease” or “periodontal disease”.
Gingivitis causes the gums to swell, bleed excessively, and recede from the teeth. The plaque (and bacteria in it) has a direct route to the bloodstream and gingivitis only provides greater access.
Some of the main factors in heart disease are plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart. Inflammation is also a factor, something that can be caused by bacteria. In fact, research has shown a link between Streptococcus mutans (the bacteria associated with gum disease) and heart disease.
Periodontal Disease & Hypertension
There is evidence to suggest a correlation between these two conditions. A meta-study looked at the risk of high blood pressure in people with moderate to severe periodontal disease. The study compiled information from 81 studies across 26 countries and found that:
- Those with moderate to severe gum disease had a 22% higher risk of hypertension.
- Those with severe gum disease had a 49% risk of hypertension.
Inflammation appears to be the main factor of concern. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation in the body that can negatively affect blood vessels.
Periodontal Disease & Obesity
Changes in body chemistry can alter metabolism which can cause inflammation, according to studies. Those with obesity can run a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, as the condition occurs more frequently with those susceptible to inflammation.
Dentists Are Beginning To Recognize This Data
As time goes on, dentists are seeing more and more how dental problems can have far-reaching negative effects on the body. This is why many modern dentists are using treatments for periodontal disease that are less forceful to avoid spreading plaque and bacteria into the bloodstream.
Periodontal disease is something that many people develop. It’s important to remember that the beginning stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis, is usually reversible. All it takes is consistent dentist appointments and improvements in dental hygiene and diet.
Once gingivitis has developed into periodontitis, the problem is usually irreversible (though still treatable). Gingivitis is usually not painful. However, periodontitis can be very painful and the gums can recede from the teeth to the point that tooth loss is common.
If you are noticing symptoms of gingivitis – gum discoloration (red or purple), excessive bleeding when brushing or flossing, halitosis (bad breath), or a receding gum line; contact your dentist immediately.
Signs that gingivitis has become periodontitis include:
- Pain when brushing, flossing, or chewing food
- A pronounced gum line recession that causes the teeth to become loose and shift position
- Tooth loss