Periodontal disease affects gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth, resulting in red and swollen gums, bad breath, receding gums and loose teeth. Left untreated, it is the major cause of tooth loss. An increasing body of studies reveal that periodontal disease may be linked to a number of major diseases including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and cancer. Considering that one out of two American adults, aged 30 and over, suffer from some form of periodontal disease, understanding how periodontal disease is related to other health risks is crucial.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, diabetes increases the risk of periodontal disease. Impaired blood flow that comes with diabetes may weaken gums and bone and make them more susceptible to infection. In addition, higher glucose levels in the mouth fluids make it ideal for bacteria to flourish, further encouraging gum disease. The reverse may be true as well. Research has also shown that periodontal disease may also complicate diabetes, making it difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Evidence suggests that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. While the cause and effect is still unclear, scientists believe that inflammation may be blamed for the strong correlation. Bacteria from the mouth may enter the blood stream and deposit in the arteries, thereby blocking blood flow. Another possibility is that the bacteria may trigger the body’s natural defense mechanism to kick in, resulting in inflammation and blocking of blood arteries.
Bone loss associated with osteoporosis is often blamed for diminished stature or hip fracture but it is also linked to bone loss in the jaw. The National Institutes of Health revealed a greater propensity to lose jaw bone if you have osteoporosis.
Bacteria in the oral cavity may be aspirated into the lungs and cause complications such as pneumonia and pulmonary embolism.
Yes, it’s linked to the dreaded disease as well. Men with advanced periodontal disease have a 63% higher incidence of pancreatic cancer. Even moderate periodontal disease may increase lung, kidney and blood cancer by 14%.
If periodontal disease is linked to major systemic diseases, it’s paramount to maintain good oral health. Visit your dentist regularly for periodic checkup and routine cleaning. Keeping periodontal disease at arm’s length will greatly improve your overall health.