How Periodontitis Impacts Your Body
The body is affected by many things, including the environment in our mouths. Studies on periodontitis (advanced gum disease) link it to other diseases of the body, and people with advanced gum disease are 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition, according to the American Dental Association.
Oral bacteria which isn’t regularly cleared away and is left to build up can lead to infection, and as the immune system tries to fight the infection it inflames the gums. Left unchecked, this inflammation and its byproducts eat away at the gums and bones holding the teeth in place, and you have periodontitis. In the process, the gums are not the only thing in the body affected. Periodontitis can impact various parts of the body.
- Dementia: Bacteria from gingivitis can travel to the brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels in the head and lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Diabetes: Inflammation that begins in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to use insulin, and high blood pressure causes infections like gum disease, to grow.
- Heart Disease: Up to 91% of patients with heart disease are also afflicted with periodontitis. Inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammatory conditions in the blood vessels, traveling through the bloodstream to the heart arteries and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that can result in heart attack or stroke.
- Low Birth Weight Babies: Infection and inflammation can interfere with a fetus’ development during pregnancy and can raise the levels of chemicals called prostaglandins, which may induce early labor.
- Respiratory Illness: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia are both made worse by periodontitis, likely due to the increase of bacteria in the lungs.
- Obesity: Periodontitis appears to increase in a person with higher body fat, in fact, a study recently found that overweight people had double the occurrence of periodontitis, while obese people had triple the incidence.
- Halitosis: The bacteria from food particles trapped between the teeth release chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide (which smells like sulfur) so you end up with persistent bad breath, also called halitosis.
Brushing, flossing, rinsing with a mouthwash to kill oral bacteria along with regular dental cleanings will prevent periodontal disease as well as keep you healthier. We invite you to call our Lifepoint Dental Partners team in Ames, Cedar Rapids, or Des Moines, Iowa to restore your healthy smile! Our doctors are always happy to keep your smile healthy and beautiful!