Research studies have shown that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory disease.
Periodontal disease is characterized by a chronic inflammation of the gum tissue, bacterial infection below the gum line and presence of toxic producing bacteria in the mouth. Halting the progression of periodontal disease and maintaining excellent standards of oral hygiene will not only reduce the risk of periodontal disease and bone loss, but also reduce the chances of developing other serious illnesses.
Common diseases associated with periodontal disease are:
A research study has shown that individuals with pre-existing diabetic conditions are more likely to either have or be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can increase blood sugar levels which makes controlling the amount of glucose in the blood difficult. This factor alone can increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Conversely, diabetes thickens blood vessels and therefore makes it harder for the mouth to rid itself of excess sugar. Excess sugar in the mouth creates a breeding ground for the types of oral bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
Whoopi Goldberg talks about her Gum Disease - It Can Kill You!
There are several theories which explain the link between heart disease and periodontal disease. One such theory is that the oral bacteria strains which cause periodontal disease attach themselves to the coronary arteries when they enter the bloodstream. This in turn contributes to both blood clot formation and the narrowing of the coronary arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack.
A second possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease causes a significant plaque build up within the arteries. This can swell the arteries and worsen pre-existing heart conditions.
Women in general are at increased risk of developing periodontal disease because of hormone fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Research suggests that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease are more at risk of high blood pressure and delivering underweight, premature babies.
Periodontal disease increases levels of prostaglandin, which is one of the labor-inducing chemicals. Elevated levels of prostaglandin may trigger premature labor, and increase the chances of delivering an underweight baby. Periodontal disease also elevates C-reactive proteins (which have previously been linked to heart disease). Heightened levels of these proteins can amplify the inflammatory response of the body and increase the chances of high blood pressure and low birth weight babies.
Oral bacteria linked with periodontal disease has been shown to possibly cause or worsen conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Oral bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract during the course of normal inhalation and colonize, causing bacterial infections. Studies have shown that the repeated infections which characterize COPD may be linked with periodontal disease.
In addition to the bacterial risk, inflammation in gum tissue can lead to severe inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which aggravates pneumonia. Individuals who suffer from chronic or persistent respiratory issues generally have low immunity. This means that bacteria can readily colonize beneath the gum line unchallenged by body’s immune system.