Did you know that the health of your mouth has a direct connection to the health of your body as a whole? This is known in dentistry and medicine as the oral systemic connection. Medical and dental professionals accept this link as not a single link but rather links for many organ systems and diseases. Research is still ongoing but there are indicators that some oral health conditions, such as periodontal (gum) disease, can lead to health issues in other parts of the body.
Gum disease is the swelling and infection of the gums caused by plague and tartar and the associated bacteria. Gum disease manifests orally as bad breath, tooth loosening/loss, and many other problems. In America gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The damage of gum disease does not stop there.
Research is continuing to show the importance of the oral systemic condition. The same bacteria that can cause the swelling and infection of your gums can spread easily throughout your body. The spread starts in the small blood vessels in your oral cavity and can lead to inflammation or swelling throughout your entire body.
Health problems that can be caused by Periodontal Disease
- Heart problems and hypertension – Inflammation is our bodies natural response to bacterial infection. The bacteria from blood vessels in your oral cavity flows to major arteries and can cause swelling, this can exacerbate existing heart issues, and can increase your risk of coronary heart failure or other serious conditions such as heart attacks. People with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart conditions.
- Diabetes – Infection caused by gum disease can often cause serious diabetic complications. Gum disease increases difficulty to keep diabetes well controlled. A serious diabetic complication includes kidney failure under certain circumstances.
- Stroke – Periodontal disease has been linked to higher risk of stroke. The swelling of the blood vessels in the brain due to presence of bacteria leads to a dramatically increased risk of ischemic stroke. One study has shown that severe periodontitis triples the risk of stroke for patients suffering from severe gum disease.
These few examples show us ways that periodontal (gum) disease can affect your systemic health. While studies are still being conducted to learn more about the oral systemic connection the importance of treating gum disease is understood. At Moorkamp and Arthur Family Dentistry we take an active approach to preventing and treating periodontal (gum) disease to increase the health of our patients.