Did you know that periodontal disease (gum disease) affects millions of people globally? This chronic inflammatory condition impacts the tissues surrounding your teeth, including your gums, bone, and ligaments. While periodontal disease can cause significant damage to your mouth, research has also found a strong connection between this condition and systemic health issues. Today, we are exploring the link between periodontal disease and systemic health and how to protect your overall health.
Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that grow in your mouth and form plaque on the teeth. If left untreated, this bacteria will spread to your gums and cause inflammation. Over time, this inflammation can lead to the destruction of the tissues that support your teeth and when severe enough, causes tooth loss!
Research indicates that the oral bacteria causing periodontal disease can also enter your bloodstream where it then travels to other parts of your body. Once in the bloodstream, these bacteria can cause inflammation in other parts of your body contributing to the development of various systemic health conditions like the following.
1. Cardiovascular Disease: Several studies have found a link between periodontal disease and an increased risk of heart disease. It is believed that the bacteria from your mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the blood vessels, leading to the development of plaque buildup and ultimately increasing your risk of heart disease.
2. Diabetes: People struggling with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal disease. Not only that, but the inflammation caused by gum disease can make it harder to control your blood sugar levels. This double-edged sword means that high diabetes glucose levels can, over time, triple your risk for developing periodontal disease.
3. Respiratory Infections: Research has also shown that periodontal disease can increase your risk of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. This happens when the bacteria in your mouth is inhaled into the lungs, causing inflammation and potentially leading to respiratory infections.
4. Pregnancy Complications: If you are currently pregnant and also have periodontal disease, you may be at a greater risk of developing complications, like preterm labor and low birth weight.
Protecting Your Health
The good news is there are several ways to protect your health and reduce your risk of incurring periodontal disease. These include:
1. Good Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good daily oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice and flossing daily, helps remove dental plaque and oral bacteria from lingering on your teeth and gums. You can use floss, interdental brushes, or another tool you prefer to clean between your teeth. If you wear dentures, you’ll want to clean them daily as well.
2. Routine Dental Checkups: Your routine dental checkups and cleanings are the ideal way to catch and treat periodontal disease when it is in its early stages, effectively preventing further damage to your teeth and gums.
3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Consuming a balanced diet and staying away from tobacco can go a long way to reducing your risk of developing periodontal disease and other systemic health conditions. Smoking can leave you battling cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
4. Managing Existing Health Conditions: If you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to manage this serious condition effectively and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
As you can see, periodontal disease, like any other serious health condition, should never be ignored. We hope that by understanding the link between periodontal disease and your systemic health and taking steps to protect your health, you can lower your risk of developing problems and their associated health complications. If you are experiencing issues with your gums, we welcome you to come in for an examination. We have the expertise you need to create and maintain healthy gums and better health!