Periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) is one of the most widespread diseases within the United States and yet gets hardly any media attention and yet can affect your overall health including your heart. With more than 64 million people in the United States that currently have periodontal disease, the dangers to the health of these Americans can be severe. Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!
So, what is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis. It begins with plaque buildup between the teeth and the gums consisting of a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva that typically isn’t removed from the gums and teeth regularly without a dental cleaning. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums, eventually destroying the jaw bone that supports the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss and even heart disease.
The Connection Between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease
There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and heart disease as well as other major medical conditions. These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease. They also indicate that periodontal disease can allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs, beginning new infections. Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream can:
- Contribute to the development of heart disease
- Increase the risk of stroke
- Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases
- Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby
There is a clear understanding from the research that periodontal disease can impact the heart and lead to heart disease. That’s why we want to ensure all of our patients and soon to be new patients are able to come in for a dental exam and a dental cleaning to ensure that they aren’t numbered among those 64 million people in the United States with periodontal disease.
To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation. Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce plaque and bacteria in the mouth.
Remember that the organs within your body work together and that when disease is affecting one of the organs, it can affect them all. By maintaining good oral healthcare and visiting your Keller Dentist regularly, you can help prevent periodontal disease as well as heart disease.