Research has shown that there is a very close connection between your oral health and your systemic (overall) health. Periodontal disease in particular has been linked to a number of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and pregnancy complications. When you visit our office, Dr. Smith and his team will work with you to provide treatments that will help you manage your gum disease and improve your overall health. Please call us to schedule your consultation and learn more about the mouth-body connection.
Periodontal Disease & Diabetes
Individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions are much more likely to develop gum disease. Gum disease can increase your blood sugar levels and make it more difficult to control your glucose levels. Diabetes, in turn, thickens your blood vessels, making it more difficult for the mouth to get rid of sugars. This creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria in your mouth, and causes your gum disease and your diabetes to worsen.
Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease, & Stroke
While it is clear that there is a connection between periodontal disease, heart disease, and stroke, it is unclear exactly what that connection is. One theory states that the oral bacteria which cause periodontal disease attach themselves to the coronary arteries when entering the bloodstream. This causes blood clot formation and narrows the coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack. Another theory is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease causes a buildup of plaque in the entire body, swelling the arteries and causing pre-existing heart conditions to worsen.
Periodontal Disease & Respiratory Disease
When the oral bacteria that cause gum disease enter the lower respiratory tract, they cause bacterial infections. These infections make conditions like emphysema, pneumonia, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) worse. Harmful bacteria may be inhaled during the course of normal breathing.
Periodontal Disease & Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone density, bone fragility, and low bone mass. It is more common in women than men, and post-menopausal women with osteoporosis are at greater risk of developing periodontal disease. Studies indicate that the connection between osteoporosis and gum disease is in estrogen deficiency and low mineral bone density. Estrogen deficiency speeds up the progression of oral bone loss and accelerates attachment loss, while inflammation from periodontal disease causes weakened bones to be even more prone to breaking down.
Periodontal Disease & Pregnancy
Due to hormonal fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, women are much more likely to develop periodontal disease. In fact, “pregnancy gingivitis” is a fairly common condition. If a woman already has gum disease before becoming pregnant, pregnancy will likely make the condition worse. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to deliver premature babies and babies with low birth weights. We strongly encourage you to meet with a Periodontist regularly throughout your pregnancy to ensure that you remain healthy.
If you have any questions about the connection between gum disease and your overall health, and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, please contact our office today.