Periodontal disease is not only a local oral disease but has a vast systemic implication. Current research suggests that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Common cofactors 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 cardiovascular disease and periodontitis. One possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease promotes a significant plaque buildup in arteries and increased atherosclerosis. This can narrow the arteries which supplies the heart (coronary 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 babies.
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.
Researchers found that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer,54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.
If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, please contact our office. We care about your overall health and your smile!