Periodontitis and overall health

Oral health is closely linked to overall health. Your mouth can reveal much more than the condition of your gums or teeth. Several illnesses stem from periodontal disease, because bacteria cause swelling and can get into your bloodstream. Over time, these bacteria deteriorate the walls of your blood vessels and the swelling affects your immune system.

Type 2 diabetes

Gum disease affects the pancreas, which can lead to the development or worsening of type 2 diabetes. Diabetics are also three to four times more likely to develop or aggravate periodontal disease, especially if their blood sugar levels are not well-controlled. Diabetics may also experience a burning sensation in the mouth or on the tongue, dry mouth, and longer healing times. If you have gum disease that isn’t healing, the dentist may suspect diabetes and refer you to a doctor.

Heart disease

Clinical studies have shown that periodontal disease can increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

Stroke

Periodontal diseases can also lead to an increased risk of thrombosis (blood clot forming in the brain), aneurysm (hemorrhage or rupture of the brain’s blood vessels) and stroke (obstruction of blood vessels).

Lung disease

Bacteria in the mouth can reach the lungs through inhalation or blood vessels and lead to lung disease (bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema).

Pregnancy

Recent studies have shown that periodontal diseases can result in complications during pregnancy and birth, such as preeclampsia.

During pregnancy, immunological response plays a key role in a woman’s health and her baby’s. If it becomes compromised, it can lead to the onset of preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition for the mother or baby if it isn’t diagnosed in time.

There is also a link between periodontitis, premature birth and low birth weight.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to swollen gums, or pregnancy gingivitis, even if your oral hygiene is exemplary. Regular check-ups are very important and tartar removal is recommended to protect or treat your gums.

Other effects of periodontitis

Periodontal diseases have detrimental effects on the entire cardiovascular system. Over time, blood vessels develop atherosclerosis (hardening and obstruction), which affects the liver and kidneys and leads to gastrointestinal problems, erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis and other joint problems, as well as premature skin aging.

Ongoing research

Research has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease or colon cancer have increased amounts of periodontal bacteria in their brain or colon. Ongoing scientific studies are trying to determine the effects of the bacteria on the progression of both diseases.