While easily preventable, periodontal disease affects countless adults annually, making it one of the most common oral conditions. When left untreated, this condition can begin to have domino effect-like consequences on other parts of the body, jeopardizing a person’s overall health. Some of these consequences include:
Heart Disease – As the gums are highly vascular, research suggests that bacteria can easily enter into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation of other organs, including the heart. Additionally, gum disease can also exacerbate existing cardiac issues. As a result, consulting with your physician prior to receiving gum disease care can ensure you remain healthy throughout treatment.
Stroke – Similar to heart disease, studies have indicated the existence of a link between gum disease and stroke. In regards to the stroke and gum disease relationship, bacteria may cause the carotid arteries to become thicker, preventing sufficient blood from flowing to the brain, thus increasing the likelihood of a stroke.
Diabetes – As severe periodontitis can increase blood sugar, gum disease can also make it more difficult for diabetic patients to control their blood sugar, putting them at a higher risk of diabetes related complications. Gum disease is also considered a side effect of diabetes, as these individuals are often more susceptible to other diseases.
Respiratory Illness – Recent studies have also indicated a link between upper respiratory conditions and periodontal disease, highlighting the fact that gum disease-causing bacteria are inhaled into the respiratory tract. This can lead to an increased risk of developing pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and COPD. As these conditions can be particularly devastating for immune-compromised patients, this discovery is particularly important for emphasizing the relationship between the health of the dentition and the patient’s overall health.
Osteoporosis – If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause bone deterioration in the jaw, compromising the integrity of the face and stability of the teeth in the arch. For patients with osteoporosis, periodontal disease can lead to accelerated bone and tooth loss, limiting the function of the dentition.
High-Risk Pregnancies – Hormonal change can significantly influence the development of gum disease. For expectant mothers, periodontal disease can lead to the likelihood of high-risk pregnancy, causing premature birth and low birth weight.