The Mouth-Body Connection in Periodontal Disease

Do you spit out blood every time you brush your teeth? Are your gums sore after you floss? Do you think this is normal? If so, think again. You may have periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease. Periodontitis is a condition in which the bacteria in tooth plaque cause inflammation of the gums. It is a progressive disease that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. However, tooth loss is just the beginning, as a host of other conditions can develop throughout your body if periodontal disease is allowed to run rampant. As it is an inflammatory disease, it has been linked to other diseases that are caused by inflamed tissues. Here are the more serious inflammatory conditions that have been linked to periodontitis.

Heart Disease

As the number one killer in the United States, heart disease is often blamed on lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. We can now add a new risk factor to that list: periodontal disease. There are two theories on how heart disease and gum disease are related:

  1. Bacteria from infected gums enter the bloodstream and attach to plaque in the coronary arteries, causing blood clot formation.
  2. Inflammation of the gums causes inflammation in other areas of the body, including the arteries, which swell and produce more plaque as a result.

Diabetes

The link between diabetes and gum disease goes both ways. Periodontal disease can increase blood sugar levels, which can trigger diabetes or make existing diabetes worse. On the flip side, diabetics are more likely to develop infections in general, and periodontal disease is a very common side effect of this condition.

Pregnancy

Although studies are still ongoing, researchers have found a correlation between periodontitis and premature birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition of pregnancy. The exact mechanism is not yet understood, but preliminary data shows that about 64% of women with preeclampsia also have periodontal disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Oral bacteria have been found in the blood plasma of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting a strong link to periodontitis. Gum inflammation causes inflammation in other areas, including the brain. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of inflammation can lead to decreased cognitive functioning, which may lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Don’t let your gum disease progress to the point that you develop serious health problems. Dr. Askari at Comfort Dental Spa can assess your gums and offer treatment to get that inflammation under control and bring your entire body back into balance. Call (248) 474-6434 to schedule your consultation today. Dr. Askari happily serves patients in Farmington Hills, Northfield, Southfield, and Livonia.