The Mouth-Body Connection

There is strong evidence that shows there is a strong connection between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation of the gum tissue, presence of disease-causing bacteria, and infection below the gum line. Infections and bacteria in the mouth can spread throughout the body and lead to a host of problematic health issues. Therefore, maintaining excellent oral hygiene and reducing the progression of periodontal disease through treatment can have benefits beyond preventing gum disease and bone loss.

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious, incurable disease that is characterized by too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Diabetes affects between 12 and 14 million Americans, and can lead to a variety of health issues, including heart disease and stroke.

Research has shown people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease than those without the disease. People with diabetes with insufficient blood sugar control develop periodontal disease more frequently and severely than those who have good management over their diabetes.

Diabetes sufferers are more susceptible to all types of infections, including periodontal infections, due to the fact diabetes slows circulation, allowing bacteria to colonize. Diabetes also reduces the body’s overall resistance to infection, which increases the probability of the gums becoming infected.

Blood vessel thickening is another concern for diabetics. Blood vessels function by providing nutrients and removing waste products from the body. When they become thickened by diabetes, these exchanges are unable to occur. As a result, harmful waste is left in the mouth and can weaken the resistance of gum tissue, leading to infection and disease.

Smoking and tobacco use is detrimental to anyone’s oral and overall health, but it is particularly harmful to diabetics. Diabetic smokers 45 and older are much more likely to develop periodontal disease than those who do no smoke. It is very important for everyone to brush teeth effectively, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly, but it is especially essential that diabetics practice these measures. Controlling your diabetes will help your gums, controlling your gum disease can help control your diabetes.

Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty proteins and your arteries thicken. This causes the arteries to narrow, constricting blood flow. 

Patients with periodontal infection, which can lead to serious heart problems and stroke, are more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those with healthy mouths. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Additionally, patients with periodontal disease may be more susceptible to strokes. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to a part of the brain is suddenly stopped. This may occur, for example, when a blood clot prevents blood from reaching the brain.

Oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream. These bacteria cand induce an inflammatory response and a cascade of events that can lead to an increase in white blood cells and C-reactive proteins (CRP). CRP is a protein that has been associated with heart disease. When levels are increased in the body, it amplifies the body’s natural inflammatory response. Bacteria from periodontal disease may enter the bloodstream, causing the liver to produce extra CRP, which then can lead to inflamed arteries and possibly blood clots. Inflamed arteries can lead to blockage, which can cause heart attacks or strokes.

Enacting positive oral hygiene practices and obtaining treatment for periodontal infections may help reduce the risk of developing this condition.

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Pregnant women with periodontal disease may expose their unborn children to a variety of risks and possible complications.  Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight of the baby. Fortunately, halting the progression of periodontal disease through practicing high standards of oral hygiene and treating existing problems can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease-related complications.

There are several factors that contribute to why periodontal disease may affect the mother and her unborn child. One is an increase in prostaglandin in mothers with advanced stages of periodontal disease, particularly periodontitis. Prostaglandin is a labor-inducing compound found in the oral bacteria associated with periodontitis. Because periodontitis increases the levels of prostaglandin, the mother may go into labor prematurely and deliver a baby with a low birth weight.

Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common condition that is characterized by the loss of bone density over time. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, or when the body absorbs too much old bone. The leading cause of osteoporosis is a drop in estrogen in menopausal women, or a drop in testosterone among men. 

Because periodontal disease can also lead to bone loss, the two diseases have been studied for possible connections. Research has shown that people who suffer from osteoporosis are more likely to also develop periodontal disease.

One of the reasons for the connection between osteoporosis and periodontal disease is an estrogen deficiency. Estrogen deficiency speeds up the progression of both oral bone loss and other bone loss. 

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is extremely important to take preventative measures against periodontal disease to protect your teeth and bones of the jaw.

Call Dallas Office Phone Number 214-691-2404 with any questions or concerns.