Recent research has shown a possible link between chronic inflammatory periodontitis and systemic diseases. An oral infection like periodontitis is a constant source of infections and has been considered a separate risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, people with periodontitis are at increased risk for diabetes and other conditions. While disease predisposes you to systemic disease, these diseases may also increase the incidence and severity of periodontal disease by reducing the body’s ability to fight bacterial infections.
It is crucial to work with a dentist and doctor to learn about the oral-systemic connection in Ellicott City, MD, and what can be done to prevent further complications.
Gum disease, an oral bacterial infection, affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. These infections usually start with the gums and, if not treated, may lead to tooth loss. Periodontal diseases can be categorized into two major types:
Gingivitis is a gum disease that causes inflammation of the gums but does not affect the bone or supporting structures of the tooth. Gingivitis is reversible and can be cured with deep cleaning, good oral hygiene, and regular dental visits.
On the other hand, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss if not treated in time. It is characterized by damage to both gums and bones that may affect one or more teeth at a time.
Various factors contribute to periodontal disease, including genetics, diet, smoking, diabetes, stress levels, medications that suppress the immune system.
Systemic diseases are a group of diseases that affect the entire body. They can affect various organs and systems in the body, leading to a range of symptoms.
The most common systemic diseases include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
Growing research has shown that oral diseases like periodontal disease can influence the course of respiratory infections—for example, bacterial pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The disease-causing bacteria can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia. Your teeth also act as a reservoir for the pathogen affecting the lungs.
An inflammatory process that destroys the connective tissue is found in periodontal disease and emphysema. This inflammation may be responsible for the association between periodontal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory conditions that cause chronic thinning of airways.
The relationship between periodontitis and diabetes is two-fold.
Diabetes affects how the body produces or uses insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Untreated diabetes can lead to higher glucose levels in your saliva, creating favorable conditions for bacteria to thrive, leading to gum disease.
On the other hand, periodontal disease can increase blood sugar and make it hard to control diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that have been linked to obesity and diabetes.
The syndrome includes high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar levels, and a large waist circumference. Metabolic syndrome predisposes you to coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
The link between periodontal disease and metabolic syndrome is not fully determined, but it is believed metabolic syndrome increases the risk for periodontitis. Chronic inflammation from periodontitis can worsen metabolic syndrome because it can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Periodontitis is associated with an increased risk of developing different conditions, such as autoimmune diseases and cancers.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to cause malignant transformation of the oral epithelium, increasing the risk of oral cancer. Mouth cancer accounts for about 30 percent of all the total cancers; that is why it is crucial to visit an oral surgeon near you for an oral cancer screening.
Periodontitis also increases the risk of other cancers like lung cancer. A recent study found out that there was a 24 percent increase in the risk of developing cancer in participants with severe periodontitis. The highest risk was lung cancer, followed by colorectal cancer.
At Julian Center, we offer comprehensive and extensive education to help you prevent periodontal disease and make better lifestyle choices. Our trained professionals can identify gum disease in its early stages and treat it on time. We also offer nutritional counseling to help manage some systemic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and metabolic syndrome.
Visit Julian Center for Comprehensive Dentistry for more information on the oral-systemic connection and what you can do.