Periodontal Disease and Whole-Body Health

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. While it primarily affects the oral cavity, research has shown that periodontal disease can have systemic effects on overall health. Here are some ways that periodontal disease can impact the body:

  1. Heart disease: Several studies have linked periodontal disease to an increased risk of heart disease. The inflammation caused by gum disease can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  2. Diabetes: People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease and, in turn, gum disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. It’s a two-way relationship, where poorly controlled blood sugar levels can make gum disease worse and vice versa.
  3. Pregnancy complications: Gum disease during pregnancy has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight.
  4. Respiratory disease: The bacteria associated with gum disease can be inhaled into the lungs and cause respiratory infections, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases.
  5. Arthritis: The inflammation associated with gum disease may exacerbate symptoms of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

It’s important to note that the links between periodontal disease and systemic health are still being studied, and more research is needed to fully understand the extent of the relationship. However, it’s clear that maintaining good oral health is an essential part of overall health and wellness. Regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene habits are important in preventing and treating gum disease.

Dr. Sarah Herrmann, DDS

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