The American Academy of Periodontology reports that gum disease claims more adult teeth in the U.S. every year than advanced tooth decay and automobile accidents. This progressive, inflammatory disease attacks the gums, connective tissues, and jaw bone, leading to a series of predictable symptoms including bleeding gums, bad breath, receding gums, and loosened teeth. Unfortunately, the damage isn’t restricted to the mouth. Today, we’re discussing a few ways advanced gum disease can prove detrimental to your overall health.
To the average person, linking gum disease to cardiovascular disorders like heart disease, strokes, and atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) seems like a bit of a stretch. Yet, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that people with periodontal disease have higher instances of some cardiovascular diseases. For instance, a study recently published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association showed that people with higher levels of certain oral bacteria had higher instances of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery (the artery located in the neck that controls oxygen and blood flow to the head).
The connection between gum disease and diabetes is so well-accepted that many health professionals look at a gum disease diagnosis as a precursor to a diabetes diagnosis, and vice versa. While the exact nature of the cyclic relationship between these two diseases remains unclear, many scientists suggest that levels of glucose (sugar) present in a diabetic’s saliva and blood stream provide a steady food source for the oral bacteria responsible for causing gum disease. Furthermore, people with diabetes have poor circulation, which reduces healing times and the body’s ability to fight infections like gum disease.
Gum disease is an inflammatory illness and, as such, untreated inflammation in the mouth can lead to an intensification of inflammatory response across the body. Scientists have long linked rheumatoid arthritis, a joint inflammation, to gum disease and recent research has pointed to a potential cause. Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), the strain of bacteria responsible for causing gum disease, releases an enzyme that intensifies the body's immune response in the joints. The immune system prompts inflammation which, in turn, destroys the cartilage and bone tissue within the joints, leading to impaired function and pain. Controlling populations of oral bacteria, then, could help alleviate or even prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
About Dr. Marco Cueva
Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is an Allen, TX dentist and board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience treating all stages of gum disease and placing dental implants. New patients can schedule an appointment or a consultation with Periodontic Excellence by calling 972-390-9944.