Did you know that one in every two American suffers from periodontal diseases? While periodontal issues are manifested in the form or swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth and bad breath, the harmful effects of periodontal disease are not just limited to your oral health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), there is an association between periodontal inflammation and various systemic medical illnesses.
Naturally, regular dental checkups and periodontal treatment in the form of scaling, deep scaling or gum surgery in advanced cases, will not only help in treating problems associated with gums and their surrounding tissues, but they are also helpful in reducing the risk the developing chronic health illnesses. This article discusses the benefits of periodontal treatment in the prevention of medical inflammatory medical conditions. However, before we consider the benefits of periodontal therapy, we should understand how your oral health affects your overall fitness and wellbeing.
Oral Systemic Link
Your mouth serves as a gateway to your body in several ways. There is a direct connection between your oral cavity and your systemic health. Everything you eat or drink first mixes with the bacteria, yeast, fungus and viruses of the oral cavity and then caries some of these into the digestive system. Because of this, those that have diseased or inflamed gums, the "bad" bacteria and friends along with items created by the inflammation from these tissues can pass along with the food into other parts of the body such as the digestive system, the respiratory and the heart and can cause serious medical problems which may even prove to be life-threatening. These same inflamed tissues provide a blood pathway for these same oral pathogens to travel through the body as well.
Periodontal Treatment and Chronic Health Problems
Now let us look at how periodontal treatment is beneficial in reducing the risk of development of chronic medical illnesses such as such cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
1. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Patients who have chronic, undiagnosed gum problems are at a very high rate of developing cardiovascular diseases as well. The bacteria inside the infected gums and periodontal tissues can enter the bloodstream through the digestive system and cause inflammation of the blood vessels. This is evidenced by the increased blood levels of an inflammatory marker, the C-reactive protein (CRP) in individuals who have periodontal problems.
The presence of harmful bacterial toxins and inflammatory molecules can have multiple effects on the cardiovascular system. First, fat deposits start forming inside the vessel which results in atherosclerosis, a condition in which the blood vessels become clogged. When this happens, the blood supply to the essential organs of the body including the heart and brain is considerably reduced, and there are higher chances of heart attack and stroke
Secondly, when the bacteria enter the heart through the blood circulation, they can get attached to any damaged region and accelerate the inflammatory process. If the bacteria gain access to damaged heart valves, it can lead to the development of a severe condition known as endocarditis.
Research has established an association between periodontal treatment and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, which is evident in the form of decreased CRP levels and oxidative stress on the body. As a result, there is a positive effect on the periodontal as well as cardiovascular health.
There is a two-way connection between diabetes and periodontal health. In patients who are suffering from diabetes, there is a directly proportional relationship between the severity of the periodontal inflammation and the complications associated with high blood sugar. Similarly, severe periodontitis has also been shown to affect blood sugar control in diabetic patients negatively. What is of more concern is the fact highlighted by recent research that severe periodontitis also increases the risk for development of diabetes.
However, the good news is that glycemic control can be improved with periodontal treatment. According to a clinical trial, mechanical periodontal treatment can decrease the HbA1C blood levels by 0.4 after three months. The HbA1C levels in the blood are an indicator of the glycemic control during the past six months. A reduction in HbA1C levels following periodontal treatment signifies the positive effect of periodontal therapy in reducing the risk and complications associated with diabetes.
from the above discussion, it is evident that periodontal health and physical wellbeing go hand in hand. If oral health status is not satisfactory, it can lead to the development of various medical illnesses and complications. However, there is no need to worry. Luckily, periodontal problems are preventable, and treatable as well. You just need to maintain optimal oral hygiene through brushing and flossing. Discuss with us at Chandler Dental Center and we will discuss how the use of a waterpik and diluted bleach solution will also prove beneficial in reducing gum inflammation.
More importantly, you should visit your dentist regularly for checkups. In this, your dentist will be able to pick underlying gum problems at an early stage, which can be corrected with periodontal treatment options such as dental prophylaxis or a deep scaling. Therefore, you should never skip your dental checkup appointment. After all, it’s a matter of your dental health and overall physical wellbeing.
-Dr. Bryce Chandler
Hegde, R., and K. H. Awan. "Effects of periodontal disease on systemic health." Disease-a-Month (2018).
Wu, Tiejian, et al. "Examination of the relation between periodontal health status and cardiovascular risk factors: serum total and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and plasma fibrinogen." American Journal of Epidemiology 151.3 (2000): 273-282.