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Gum Disease and Its Connection to Other Health Conditions

By Darlene Oakley HERWriter
 
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One of the most commonly asked questions is about the possible link between gum disease or periodontal disease and other medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Preliminary research indicates that, yes, in fact there is a connection. Further research needs to be done to determine precisely why, but the early results give us reason to take care of our mouths.

This isn’t to say that periodontal disease “causes” these conditions, but it can affect the severity of the symptoms associated with these conditions.

Osteoporosis

Gum disease if left untreated can worsen until hard and soft tissue (bone and gums) start to deteriorate. When this happens without preventative or interceptive treatment, tooth loss can result. For those who suffer from or have a family history of osteoporosis, gum disease only makes a complicated situation worse because treatment will not only have to be directed at the systemic deterioration of osteoporosis, but also of periodontal disease.

Many patients may not even be aware they have gum disease, which is why it is so important to maintain good oral hygiene, including regular dental check-ups whether or not they actually feel like something’s wrong.

Since women in their menopausal years are most prone to osteoporosis, it is important for that segment of the population to remain vigilant about their oral health.

Heart Disease & Stroke

People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries - the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the heart. This thickening happens because of plaque build up usually comprised of fatty proteins. While the exact reason for the correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease is yet to be determined, scientists theorize that oral bacteria enters the blood stream and is carried along by the fatty proteins. The body’s natural reaction to bacteria is to fight the infection with white blood cells further decreasing the space inside the artery.

Again, more research is being done to find more definitive answers.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I had no idea that gum disease was so connected with other diseases. That's scary since my dad was just diagnosed with gum disease. We've all been doing a little research to learn more about it. I'll have to share this with him.
http://www.advancedgumsurgery.com/gum-disease/gum-disease-symptoms.aspx

August 13, 2014 - 1:24pm
Darlene Oakley HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

It is surprising that it affects so many other systems. Surgery isn't always required, though, depending on the extent of it. Dentist's usually strive for the least invasive treatment plan possible, although - again - depending on the severity of the case they may recommend a rather aggressive treatment plan to slow the progress of the disease and allow the gums and bone a chance to heal.

It's really over a long period of time that gum disease goes untreated that the body's other systems can be affected that's why regular oral hygiene, including dental check-ups are really important to catch it early before it does more underlying damage.

August 17, 2014 - 7:21pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Wow never thought it is closely related.

December 17, 2011 - 2:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Well, I am not surprised at all that there is a link between gum disesase and heart/kidney problems. When I was little (I am 57 now) the old people used to tell us to look after your teeth because "the inflamation will spread to heart and kidneys"). I am trying to tell that to my dentists but somehow...they don't get it. Now when I am in pain 24/7 (jaw and gums) my dentist is saying she has never seen anything like that. My teeth are clean, I wash them, I floss then, I spend a fortune on some rinsing products but it is not helping. Yes, I have osteoporosis and am on Actonel Combi, had kidney stones and operation of parathyroid gland, etc. I AM convinced that everything is related and there is some inflamation in my mouth which is going on and on. I even started suffereing from BBPV (vertigo) but nobody seems to want to look at me as a whole. No doctor wants to be bothered except just examine one thing.
I have a partial denture but am not able to wear it due to the pain. When my dentist takes x ray everything seems fine, like I am imagining things. Is anyone in this world willing to help?
OF COURSE THERE IS CONNECTION BETWEEN OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY AND TEETH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE EXPERT TO KN OW THAT BUT DOCTORS JUST IGNORE IT!!!
Thanks for your attention and please help.

December 16, 2011 - 7:05pm
Linda Fugate PhD

This is very important information on periodontal disease. One of my friends always has to take antibiotics when he goes to the dentist because he has a heart murmur. I used to think that was awfully weird, but I'm learning that infection and inflammation issues can affect the entire body. For the association between periodontal disease and chronic kidney disease, please see my article at
http://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/08/24/gum-disease-risk-kidn...

August 24, 2009 - 2:03pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I use a Gripit Floss Holder - www.gripit.biz - to floss regularly. These handy devices come with their own floss supply that can be advanced in seconds and refilled from local
drug and grocery stores. They last a lifetime and don't clog landfills.

August 14, 2009 - 8:46am
Darlene Oakley HERWriter

You're welcome. Flossing usually gets the short end of the stick (no pun intended) when it comes to oral hygiene, but it is really quite crucial to stimulating gums and keeping them healthy. I have had a history of gum related issues including gingivitis (a mild form of periodontal disease) so I have flossed irregularly, but started again when I noticed some gum resorption which, two months later, is now much better.

I will address proper dental hygiene in another article in more detail including the importance of flossing.

August 12, 2009 - 8:38am
Diane Porter

Darlene,

Thank you so much for such an informative, thorough SHARE. It's funny, our vet always emphasized that our dogs' teeth need to be kept clean because of the ongoing damage that periodontal bacteria can do to the dogs' organs, but I never thought about the same being true for people. But it makes perfect sense. Another reason to be dedicated to (ugh) flossing, too. I shall rededicate my efforts. Thank you again.

August 12, 2009 - 8:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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