Research has recently proven what dentists have long suspected: that 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 will have benefits beyond preventing gum disease and bone loss. It can also save you from the chance of developing another serious condition.
Periodontal Disease & Diabetes
Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications.
People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.
A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that poorly controlled type 2 diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than well-controlled diabetics are.
Research has emerged that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. This means diabetics who have periodontal disease should be treated to eliminate the periodontal infection.
This recommendation is supported by a study reported in the Journal of Periodontology in 1997 involving 113 Pima Indians with both diabetes and periodontal disease. The study found that when their periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes greatly improved.
Periodontal Disease & Heart Disease
Data Reveals Diseased Gums Pump High Levels of Harmful Bacterial Components into Bloodstream
CHICAGO – February 7, 2002 – A study in the Journal of Periodontology confirms findings that people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Study Abstract*
Researchers found diseased gums released significantly higher levels of bacterial pro-inflammatory components, such as endotoxins, into the bloodstream in patients with severe periodontal disease then those with healthy gums. As a result, these harmful bacterial components in the blood could travel to other organs in the body, such as the heart and cause harm.
The study is consistent with recent findings by the University of Buffalo where researchers suggest periodontal disease may cause oral bacterial components to enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to make C-reactive proteins, which are a predictor for increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
“We found the mouth can be a major source of chronic or permanent release of toxic bacterial components in the bloodstream during normal oral functions,” said Dr. E.H. Rompen, director of the study. “This could be the missing link explaining the abnormally high blood levels of some inflammatory markers or endotoxemia observed in patients with periodontal disease.”
Researchers studied 67 patients of whom 42 were diagnosed with moderate to severe periodontitis and the remaining 25 patients were healthy individuals who had never received periodontal treatment. Blood samples were taken before and after patients lightly chewed chewing gum 50 times on each side of their jaw. Researchers found the number of patients with endotoxemia rose from six percent before chewing to 24 percent after chewing. Additionally, those with severe periodontal disease had approximately four times more harmful bacterial products in their blood than those with moderate or no periodontal disease.
“While this clinical study supports earlier findings, there is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular and difficult-to-control diabetes,” said Kenneth Bueltmann, D.D.S., president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). “This data clearly stresses the importance of regular dental checkups to ensure a healthy, diseased-free mouth.”
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. When this happens, gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that fill with plaque, bacteria and even more infection. As the disease progresses, these pockets deepen even further, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed, the teeth become loose and this eventually leads to tooth loss. Approximately 15 percent of adults between 21 and 50 years old and 30 percent of adults over 50 have periodontal disease.