Gum Disease and Systemic Health

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Not taking good care of your teeth and gums can lead to more than just cavities and bad breath. Your oral health is more important than you might realize. Gum disease can increase your risk of developing or predisposing you to health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, gut issues, preterm labor, respiratory disease, and even Alzheimer’s. Conversely, periodontal health can be affected by some systemic diseases.

How exactly is oral health related to systemic disease?

If you’re wondering how the health of your teeth and gums is related to the well-being of your body, here’s a simple explanation of the correlation for you to understand:

Periodontitis is an infection of the gums. It is a chronic inflammatory disease triggered by bacterial microorganisms that have been allowed to accumulate on your teeth and gums. Did you know that your mouth can act as a portal of entry for infection? Yes, you heard that right. Bacteria from the oral cavity can enter the bloodstream from the infected gum tissue. They can then spread through the circulation and infect other organs, such as the heart and lungs.

Research has shown that the treatment of gum disease has a significant impact on lessening or decreasing the severity of other systemic diseases, hence emphasizing the existence of a correlation between the two.

I will discuss in detail the relation of the two most common systemic diseases with periodontitis below.

Periodontitis and diabetes:

Diabetes mellitus is an exceptionally significant disease from a periodontal standpoint. Research studies have shown that diabetes increases the risk for and severity of gum diseases. This is mainly owed to the fact that diabetic people are more prone to contracting infections.

However, the relationship between diabetes and periodontitis goes both ways. Periodontitis can worsen diabetes by causing blood sugar levels to rise and making it increasingly difficult to bring them under control. This drastically increases the risk of developing diabetic complications.

Prevention and treatment of periodontitis can help improve blood sugar control. Doctors Heller, Beckman, and Thousand always emphasize the importance of regular dental check-ups, as early detection and treatment of periodontal problems is key to maintaining good oral and systemic health.

Be vigilant about your oral and systemic health. Call (303)-755-4500 (Aurora) or (303)-795-5700 (Littleton) to book an appointment today!

Periodontitis and heart health:

Could better oral hygiene habits such as brushing, and flossing give you a healthier heart? Is the plaque on your teeth related to the plaque in your arteries? Let’s find out.

We all know that the plaque around teeth is definitely not the same as the plaque that builds up inside arteries. Periodontitis begins as the bacteria-laden biofilm starts accumulating around the teeth and gums. An entirely different kind of plaque, consisting of fat, cholesterol, and calcium, builds up inside arteries and is responsible for causing atherosclerosis. However, there may be a connection between the two.

Studies have shown that people with periodontitis are at an increased risk of experiencing an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. So how are they related?

Here are some possible theories that attempt to explain the connection between the two inflammatory conditions.

  1. The bacterial influx from the oral cavity may be responsible for triggering inflammation and damage to blood vessels. As a result, blood clots may form and occlude the arteries, leading to stroke or a heart attack. In support of this theory, studies have found remnants of oral bacteria in atherosclerotic blood vessels in places distant from the oral cavity.
  2. In contrast to the former theory, this theory holds the body’s natural immune response to inflammation accountable, rather than bacteria causing the problem. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis are examples of chronic inflammatory diseases meaning that low-grade inflammation is the root of these diseases. The body responds to inflammation by offsetting a cascade of events that eventually cause damage to blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain and heart.

Put simply, the more bacteria you have in your system, the greater the degree of inflammation and the more your heart will be affected.

The Bottom Line

While you cannot entirely prevent heart disease by preventing gum disease, you can certainly control its progression. The relationship between the two conditions is reciprocal. When you control your blood sugar levels, there is an immediate improvement in your periodontal health. Similarly, when you treat periodontal disease, the need for insulin is reduced (as diabetes increases insulin resistance). You must show up for your regular dental cleaning appointments so Doctors Heller, Beckman, and Thousand can make sure your oral cavity isn’t contributing to the bacterial burden in your body. Go on, take good care of your choppers by brushing and flossing them well, and your heart might thank you, too!

If you haven’t yet had a chance to book your appointment, it’s never too late. Reach us at (303)-755-4500 (Aurora) or (303)-795-5700 (Littleton) and schedule yours today!

The Takeaway

Periodontitis or gum disease is linked to a host of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, among many others.

As a result of numerous research studies, we are now aware of a synergistic relationship between your oral health and overall well-being. Oral health is a key indicator of your overall health and well-being. Your dentist can have one look into your mouth and detect any red flags that may reveal underlying health issues. Remember: Oral health is a window to your overall health. It is crucial to maintain your oral health for better systemic health.

If you have any queries or want to find out more about how you can improve your oral health, please feel free to contact us at (303)-755-4500 (Aurora) or (303)-795-5700 (Littleton).