What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease, also known as periodontitis, is a severe infection in the gums that not only damages your gums but also can destroy your jaw if left untreated.
It is simple to avoid periodontitis by attending bi-yearly dental exams and ensuring you are performing appropriate oral hygiene.
To know if you have periodontitis, you will need to be diagnosed by your dentist.
Some clear signs that you need to see your dentist: your gums are swollen, tender, or red.
Effects of Periodontal Disease
Periodontitis is an extremely severe and unforgiving disease and, if left untreated, can cause a domino effect of even more severe health issues all over your body.
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque due to bacteria entering the body. This causes severe inflammation in the gums that cannot clear up on its own. If left untreated in the mouth, it can quickly affect your bloodstream, and over time the blood vessels will begin to damage, which can cause extreme damage to a person's brain and heart.
Periodontal disease can cause the following effects.
Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
While not everyone with heart disease has gum disease and vice versa, some theories show a correlation between the two diseases, which is seen through the inflammation of the gums. When your gums become inflamed, it can set off a chain reaction where inflammation begins to build up in a person's cardiovascular system.
Inflammation is a response in the body for pathogens, but it can begin to damage tissue and even organs when left untreated.
Aside from inflammation, the link between heart and gum disease can also be seen in the bacteria due to plaque build-up in the gums. When bacteria enter the gums and are left untreated, they can enter the bloodstream, allowing them to go to various areas of the body, the heart included. This causes inflammation in the heart, and researchers have even found that P. gingivalis, a bacteria in adult periodontitis, is commonly found in the coronary artery.
Periodontitis negatively affects both non-diabetic and current diabetic individuals due to its effect on glycemic control.
Much like heart disease, this connection is brought about because of the inflammation caused by periodontitis. If you have diabetes, your doctor might tell you that you are at a more increased risk for periodontitis. If you do suffer from periodontal disease, it will be much harder to control your glycemic levels.
If you do have diabetes, we highly recommend a thorough oral exam and periodontal evaluation.
If you do not have a diabetes diagnosis but do have a risk of type 2 diabetes, including signs of periodontitis, your periodontist, if available, will be able to provide an HbA1C test and provide a referral to a doctor for an appropriate and accurate diagnosis.
Periodontitis and Cognition
Regardless of the distance between the two, most people do not associate gum disease with brain and neurological conditions.
A study showed a possible decline in cognitive function in older men due to tooth loss. Because periodontal disease aids in tooth loss, there is a positive relationship between the two.
Periodontitis can also cause a buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain, most commonly found in individuals with Alzheimer's.
And much like heart disease, the bacteria P. gingivalis is often found in the brain of people with Alzheimer's.
This bacteria is known to boost the production of beta-amyloid in the brain. The bacteria caused by the inflammation in the gums spreads to the channel of nerves in the body and enters your bloodstream, aiding in possible memory loss like dementia and Alzheimers.
With such studies to show the link between periodontitis and other bodily health issues, it is essential to understand the signs and get the care you need.