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Periodontal Disease
Mouth - Body Connection

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Mouth - Body Connection

mouth-body connectionResearch has clearly shown a strong link between periodontal disease and chronic overall health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and pregnancy complications.

Periodontal disease is the chronic irritation and inflammation of the gums, tissues below the gum line and the presence of bacteria that cause diseases in and around the mouth. Stopping periodontal disease from progressing and maintaining excellent oral hygiene can reduce the chance of gum disease and bone loss while also reducing the risk of other serious illnesses.

Cofactors commonly associated with periodontal disease include the following:


People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease and are more susceptible to it, according to research. Gum disease can also increase the level of blood glucose in the body, making controlling blood sugar levels more difficult. This single factor can lead to severe diabetic complications.

In the same way, diabetes makes blood vessels thicker and makes it more difficult for the mouth to get rid of excess sugar. The presence of excess sugar in the mouth establishes a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause gum disease and other problems.

Heart Disease

A link between heart disease and periodontal disease is explained in several theories about the topic. One concludes that the kinds of oral bacteria that lead to periodontal disease attach to the coronary arteries when they get into the blood. This causes both the formation of blood clots and coronary artery narrowing, and these conditions can lead to heart attack.

A second theory suggests that the inflammation that periodontal disease causes can lead to a buildup of plaque that swells up arteries and make heart conditions worse. The American Academy of Periodontology published an article that suggests there is an increased risk of heart disease for patients whose bodies react to oral bacteria.

Pregnancy Complications

Because of hormonal fluctuations that happen during puberty, menopause and pregnancy, women are at an increased risk of gum disease. Research indicates, additionally, that pregnant women who have gum disease are more likely to experience preeclampsia and to delivered premature, underweight babies.

Periodontal disease increases the prostaglandin level in the body, and this is a labor-inducing chemical. High levels of prostaglandin can trigger labor to occur prematurely, making delivery of an underweight baby more likely. Periodontal disease also raises the level of c-reactive proteins, linked to heart disease. High levels of such proteins can increase the inflammatory response and make preeclampsia and low birth weight more likely.

Respiratory Disease

dr paige woods ddsOral bacteria connected with gum disease have been indicated as a cause of or worsening factor for conditions including as emphysema, pneumonia and COPD. Oral bacteria can be sucked into the lungs during normal inhalation and colonize there, leading to bacterial infections. Studies have indicated that repeated infections that are part of COPD can be linked with periodontitis.

In addition to this risk, gum tissue inflammation can cause severe inflammation in the lung linings, something that aggravates pneumonia. People who suffer from respiratory problems also usually have low immunity. This means that there is little challenge from the immune system to bacteria as they colonize below the gum line.

For more information on periodontal disease and the body-mouth connection, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS .