What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an oral condition that affects the gums and supporting structures in your mouth. It begins as a bacterial infection of the gums and gradually progresses until it destroys your gums and bone structure.
There are four different degrees of severity:
Gum Disease and Your Health
Research has shown that periodontal disease is closely linked to your overall health. In fact, gum disease and other medical conditions often impact and exacerbate each other. Common conditions affected by gum disease include diabetes, heart disease and stroke, pregnancy complications, osteoporosis, and respiratory disease. Being proactive in the early to moderate stages of the disease can control its progression 99% of the time, but once it goes to the advanced stages, tooth, gum and bone loss is inevitable.
The effects of gum disease include premature aged appearance, inability to chew and digest healthy foods, loss of general health, and shorter lifespan. People that lose their teeth live five to seven years less than people who maintain their teeth.
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
Patients with preexisting diabetic conditions are more likely to develop gum disease. Periodontal disease and diabetes contribute to each other, and one condition may cause the other to worsen. Gum disease increases blood sugar levels, making it more difficult to control your glucose levels. Diabetes thickens your blood vessels, making it more difficult to remove excess sugar in the mouth. This creates a feeding ground for the bacteria, which in turn cause gum disease.
Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke have also been linked to periodontal disease. There are several ways in which these conditions are linked. The bacteria that cause gum disease may attach themselves to coronary arteries when they enter the bloodstream. This contributes to blood clot formation and narrows the arteries, which in turn can lead to a heart attack. The inflammation caused by gum disease can also cause plaque buildup, swelling the arteries and worsening preexisting heart conditions.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy
Periodontal disease may put women at risk for delivering premature and underweight babies. Women experience frequent hormone fluctuations at various points in their lives, including during pregnancy. These hormonal fluctuations put them at greater risk for periodontal disease, which in turn puts them at greater risk for preeclampsia and premature and underweight babies. We recommend working closely with our dentists throughout your pregnancy to help maintain good oral health and keep your mouth free from gum disease.
Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease and occurs most frequently in post-menopausal women. This condition is characterized by low bone mass, bone fragility and a decrease in bone mineral density. One of the characteristics of periodontal disease is progressive bone and tissue loss. Individuals with osteoporosis are much more likely to experience the tissue loss in their supporting bone structure that results from gum disease.
Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease
If you have periodontal disease, normal inhalation can cause the bacteria in your mouth to move into your lower respiratory tract. This can cause a bacterial infection in the lungs, which may aggravate persistent or chronic respiratory problems. It can also contribute to the development of conditions such as pneumonia.
Our dentists will work closely with your medical doctor to help you manage your health conditions and your gum disease so that you can once again enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Please call our office today for more information and to set up your appointment with our experienced dentists.