Studies have shown shown that there may be an correlation between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among others. Researchers believe that inflammation may be the cause behind the link between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to fight off infection, protect against injury, or guard against irritation. It initially intends to have a protective effect. Chronic inflammation, if left untreated, can lead to the destruction of affected tissues, which can lead to more serious health complications. If you feel or suspect you have one of the inflammatory conditions discussed below, it is imperative to talk with both your primary care physician and a dental health professional, such as a periodontist, to help reduce the risk of disease progression. Both dental and medical professionals will often work together to manage their patients at risk, or living with any of the following diseases:
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is at the top of the list among killers of men and women every year. Studies have shown that inflammation can play a major role in the development CVD, and that people with periodontal disease may pose an elevated risk for CVD. Although more research is needed to better understand the connection between CVD and periodontal disease, you should not be alarmed if your periodontist asks you about your heart health or if your primary care physician or cardiologist questions you regarding your periodontal health.
Periodontal disease can be a complication of diabetes. Research has shown that people with inadequately controlled Type 2 diabetes are more apt to developing periodontal disease. However, the risk does not go just one way. People who have periodontal disease might find that it is more difficult to control their levels of blood sugar, which poses the risk for diabetic complications. If you are a diabetic, your periodontal health is something that should be closely maintained.
Research has shown that women who have periodontal disease may have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as babies with low birth weight or delivering pre-term. More research is being conducted to determine the exact relationship, but a periodontal evaluation should be scheduled by expectant mothers to ensure that their periodontal health is at its best.
Studies have suggested that bacteria found in the mouth can be introduced into the respiratory tract and cause an inflammatory reaction of the lungs, known commonly as pneumonia. Also, periodontal disease may worsen existing chronic lung conditions. Anyone with lung or respiratory problems should consider a complete oral health screening to determine the presence of gum disease, if any.
Since a connection has been shown between periodontal and other chronic diseases, you should strive to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Most importantly, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss at least once each day. Additionally, you should receive a comprehensive periodontal exam (CPE) each year from either your general dentist or your periodontist. Doing this will help ensure that your periodontal health is at its best, which can help to keep your entire body healthy.