Gum Disease and your General Health

by | Sep 7, 2008 | General Dentistry

Hi everyone!

    Today’s blog is about the recently publicized link between gum disease (periodontitis) and such illnesses as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pneumonia.  The agent of this connection is a spillover of bacteria and inflammatory agents from the mouth into the bloodstream and then on to the rest of the body.

    Diabetes diminishes the function of our immune system and also affects circulation so it can restrict blood flow to the gums as well.  This provides ideal conditions for periodontitis to occur.  In addition, the bacteria and inflammatory from the periodontitis are released into the bloodstream to travel elsewhere in the body where the diabetes compromised immune system is also ill equipped to handle them.  Research has shown that treating gum disease can improve blood sugar control in diabetics, in fact some insurances like Blue Cross or Delta Dental are paying additional periodontal treatment benefits for diabetics.

    Gum disease also increases your risk of heart and coronary artery disease.  Folks with high levels of some oral bacteria have thicker carotid arteries, a predictor of heart attack and stroke, and it has been shown that people who have angina and heart attacks have higher levels of certain oral bacteria.  These oral bacteria provoke inflammation which increases levels of white blood cells and C-reactive protein, which has been linked to heart disease. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that treatment of periodontal disease was linked to improved circulation.

    Poor oral hygiene and gum disease has been shown to contribute to fatal pneumonias in hospitals and nursing homes.  In these settings, poor oral hygiene fosters the buildup of bacteria so a patient on a respirator, for instance, is susceptible to breathing those bacteria, causing infection.

    There is good evidence to support the assertion that healthy gums will literally add years to your life, as well as enhance the quality of the years you have.  It is NEVER too late to start taking care of your mouth and you should know that  bleeding gums are NEVER a good thing and are NOT normal!  We are here to help you with the latest treatments for gum disease which both predictable and comfortable. Remember, HEALTHY GUMS DO NOT BLEED! 

Well, that’s enough for today.  Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD