Mouth - Body Connection
Research studies have shown
that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other
chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy
complications and respiratory disease.
Periodontal disease is
characterized by chronic inflammation of the gum tissue, periodontal
infection below the gum line and a presence of disease-causing bacteria
in the oral region. Halting the progression of periodontal disease and
maintaining excellent standards of oral hygiene will not only reduce the
risk of gum disease and bone loss, but also reduce the chances of
developing other serious illnesses.
Common factors associated with periodontal disease:
A research study has shown that
individuals with pre-existing diabetic conditions are more likely to
either have, or be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Periodontal
disease can increase blood sugar levels which makes controlling the
amount of glucose in the blood difficult. This factor alone can
increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Conversely,
diabetes thickens blood vessels and therefore makes it harder for the
mouth to rid itself of excess sugar. Excess sugar in the mouth creates a
breeding ground for the types of oral bacteria that cause gum disease.
There are several theories
which explain the link between heart disease and periodontitis. One
such theory is that the oral bacteria strains which exacerbate
periodontal disease attach themselves to the coronary arteries when they
enter the bloodstream. This in turn contributes to both blood clot
formation and the narrowing of the coronary arteries, possibly leading
to a heart attack.
A second possibility is that
the inflammation caused by periodontal disease causes a significant
plaque build up. This can swell the arteries and worsen pre-existing
heart conditions. An article published by the American Academy of
Periodontology suggests that patients whose bodies react to periodontal
bacteria have an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Women in general are at
increased risk of developing periodontal disease because of hormone
fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
Research suggests that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease
are more at risk of preeclampsia and delivering underweight, premature
Periodontitis increases levels
of prostaglandin, which is one of the labor-inducing chemicals.
Elevated levels prostaglandin may trigger premature labor, and increase
the chances of delivering an underweight baby. Periodontal disease also
elevates C-reactive proteins (which have previously been linked to
heart disease). Heightened levels of these proteins can amplify the
inflammatory response of the body and increase the chances of
preeclampsia and low birth weight babies.
Oral bacterium linked with gum
disease has been shown to possibly cause or worsen conditions such as
emphysema, pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Oral bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract during the
course of normal inhalation and colonize; causing bacterial infections.
Studies have shown that the repeated infections which characterize COPD
may be linked with periodontitis.
In addition to the bacterial
risk, inflammation in gum tissue can lead to severe inflammation in the
lining of the lungs, which aggravates pneumonia. Individuals who suffer
from chronic or persistent respiratory issues generally have low
immunity. This means that bacteria can readily colonize beneath the gum
line unchallenged by body’s immune system.
If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease and the
mouth-body connection, please ask your dentist. We care about your
overall health and your smile!
You are welcome to schedule an appointment today!