Your oral health plays a large role in your overall systemic health. One of the most common issues we see is patients suffering from periodontal disease and subsequently suffering from a multitude of other health issues.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of your gums and surrounding teeth. The most common cause of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene. Improper or irregular brushing and flossing can lead to excessive plaque build-up and eventually periodontal disease.
This disease starts as gingivitis, which is reddening and inflammation of the gums. At this stage, the disease is reversible by scaling the teeth and resuming a proper oral hygiene routine.
The second stage is periodontitis. At this stage, infection has set in your gums and surrounding tissues. This stage is irreversible but easier to manage.
The third stage is advanced periodontitis and is characterized by loss of bone, teeth, and connective tissue. Often times a gingivectomy is required to remove diseased gums and prosthetics are needed to replace lost teeth.
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to brush twice daily and floss daily. It’s also important to make sure your diet is totally cleaned up and free of processed foods and sugars. These foods cause the bacteria in your mouth to feed off of them and create an acid by-product, which ultimately leads to the development of cavities and excessive bacteria.
Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. This is likely because people with diabetes already have a weakened immune system and are at a higher risk of diabetes. Those who do not control the disease are at the highest risk.
There’s research that suggests those with periodontal disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Severe periodontal disease increased an individual’s blood sugar, which ultimately means that a diabetic’s body is more likely to run on high blood sugar if they have the disease. This increased the risk for diabetic complications.
Many studies have highlighted the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease. It is thought that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease is in part to blame for the association.
Because periodontitis is an infection, patients with heart disease may require antibiotics prior to any dental procedures. This is because those patients are at a higher risk for infective endocarditis.
Studies have shown that patients with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to have an oral infection like periodontitis that those who were in their control group. This indicates that the heart’s ability to pump blood and have a good flow can be linked to the build up of plaque in an individual’s mouth. In fact, it has been proven that the same plaque in your mouth is what is built up in arteries.
There is new research that suggests a connection between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. These studies imply that osteoporosis could decrease a jaw’s bone density and lead to tooth loss due to a lack of a solid foundation.
Periodontitis has been linked to kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancer.