Gum disease, or periodontal disease, affects millions of Americans and research has shown links between gum disease and several other systemic illnesses.
Systemic disease is a term used to describe conditions that affect many organs and tissues. In other words, systemic diseases affect the entire body. If you have a systemic disease, it lowers your body’s ability to fight off infection and inflammation.
A growing body of evidence suggests inflammation could be the connection between systemic disease and gum disease, and, as a result, treating the inflammation could help manage both the conditions.
Systemic conditions with connections to oral health include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer, among others. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Diabetes: Research has shown that people with diabetes are more likely to develop severe gum disease and lose more teeth than people who don’t have diabetes. Also, gum disease could have adverse consequences on their ability to regulate glucose levels.
Heart Disease: Experts see a correlation between oral disease and heart function, although, like all the systemic conditions, it is not a causal relationship. Swelling links the two conditions. Hardened arteries are a symptom of heart disease and decrease the flow of blood to your heart, and swollen gums are the main symptom of gum disease.
Stroke: Researchers found that gum disease increased the risk of an ischemic stroke when the patient also had severe periodontitis, particularly for men and for subjects under 60 years of age. An ischemic stroke is a type of stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel that gets blood to the brain.
Breast Cancer: Researchers found that women who had gum disease had an overall increased risk of breast cancer over women who didn’t have it. The percentage jumps if the woman smokes, or has smoked in the past 20 years.
It is clear by any measure that gum disease isn’t helping any of these systemic conditions. There is a relationship between the gum disease and these diseases, even if it’s limited to the fact that people who have gum disease tend to have an unhealthy lifestyle that contributes to these conditions.
The good news is that moderate to severe periodontal disease is treatable and today there are many treatment methods available.
If you currently suffer from one of these systemic conditions, call us today to schedule an appointment to determine if you are at risk for gum disease and what treatment is right for you.