The Bigger Picture: Link between Periodontal Disease and Other Serious Maladies

Did you know that there is a direct link between having periodontal disease and other major health complications? Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures, such as the gums, around the teeth. These infections are caused by bacteria and can lead to swollen and bleeding gums, gingivitis, the destruction of the gums and jawbone, and eventually the loss of your teeth. All of that in and of it sounds terrible, but there is more. Having periodontal disease puts you at a high risk of developing many other horrible maladies, and oftentimes they are life long health problems.

Studies have been conducted and research is still underway, but periodontal disease has been linked to the following health issues: respiratory disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney, blood, and pancreatic cancer. You would be concerned if you washed your hair every morning and your head bled. However, most people don’t express that same concern when they brush their teeth and their gums bleed. It is still up for debate as to why periodontal disease is so closely linked with these other health problems, but most research suggests it has to do with the bacterial component and complications due to inflammation.

So what causes periodontal disease, and how can you prevent it from happening to you?

According to, “periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque, the sticky substance that forms on your teeth a couple of hours after you have brushed. Interestingly, it is your body's response to the bacterial infection that causes most of the problems. In an effort to eliminate the bacteria, the cells of your immune system release substances that cause inflammation and destruction of the gums, periodontal ligament or alveolar bone. This leads to swollen, bleeding gums, signs of gingivitis (the earliest stage of periodontal disease), and loosening of the teeth, a sign of severe periodontitis (the advanced stage of disease).”

Don’t worry though periodontal disease is preventable! Ensuring that you consistently practice proper oral hygiene is the best way to prevent this from happening to you. Make sure your always brush your teeth between meals, floss at least once a day, add mouthwash to your oral routine, and be sure to get an annual CPE (comprehensive periodontal evaluation). Practicing other healthy habits like not smoking and eating a nutritionally balanced diet only further benefit your oral and overall health.

Talk to Dr. Blake or Dr. Steve at your next appointment if you have any concerns, questions, or want to know if you are at a greater risk. It is easier to prevent it than it is to treat advanced consequences.

Thank you for sharing a smile with us this week. 

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