The Mouth-Body Connection
Maintaining proper oral health can boost self-confidence, allow for greater nutritional intake, and provide you with a beautiful, healthy smile. However, when oral health is neglected, it can lead to a number of issues pertaining to the teeth, bones, and gums, causing anything from chronic bad breath to gum disease and tooth loss. What many patients fail to realize is that there is a strong connection between poor oral health—specifically gum (periodontal) disease—and more serious systemic complications like heart disease and diabetes. With the potential for your entire body to be affected, treating your gum disease has never been more important.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease begins when bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup on the tooth surface below the gum line and begin to irritate the gum tissue. In the first stage of gingivitis, gums may be tender, inflamed, and bleed. This stage is reversible with timely treatment, but if allowed to progress, can lead to periodontitis, where supporting gums begin to recede and pull away from the teeth. In advanced periodontitis, more severe gum recession occurs, along with persistent bad breath and significant bone deterioration. If left to progress fully, teeth loosen and may even be lost.
Gum disease can sometimes go undetected in patients without the proper diagnosis of a doctor, as symptoms of the first stage are often painless. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, you run the risk of developing or exasperating more serious health concerns, including:
Prolonged gum disease increases the risk for coronary artery disease, heart disease, and stroke. Bacteria buildup around the teeth and gums can release toxins into the bloodstream and clog arteries, forming blood clots. Similarly, bacteria can cause the liver to overproduce certain proteins that can inflame blood vessels. If not treated, this inflammation can cause heart disease and strokes.
Those who have diabetes also generally suffer from a poor immune system and slow blood circulation. This increased vulnerability to infections puts them at a higher risk for developing complications from gum disease-causing bacteria, including elevated sugar levels. Damaged blood vessels from high sugar levels makes it difficult for the body to supply the gums with proper nourishment.
“Pregnancy gingivitis” affects a large number of pregnant women due to hormonal changes that cause the gum tissue to overreact to plaque buildup on the teeth. Without proper dental cleanings throughout pregnancy, this buildup creates bacteria that irritates the gums and may even enter the bloodstream. Bacteria may travel to the uterus, increasing the risk for premature birth and low birth weight babies.
Bacteria from gum disease may spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, and may cause or worsen existing respiratory complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, and obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic inflammation of the gum tissues from these bacteria can also cause chronic inflammation of the lung lining, limiting the amount of air that can travel through the lungs.
Passionate, Skillful Care
As an experienced periodontist, Dr. James Rogers is specialized in diagnosing and treating all stages of gum disease. Our skilled team is passionate about keeping you educated on many periodontal concerns, including the mouth-body connection between gum disease and systemic issues. Using the latest advanced technology and procedures, including laser gum therapy, we can help reduce your risk for developing more complicated health issues by effectively diagnosing and treating your oral health concerns. If you have not received dental care in a while, we recommend that you attend routine appointments to ensure your oral health is on track.