Periodontal Disease & Your Overall Health

Some periodontal diseases are influenced by systemic conditions and, in addition, systemic conditions can be influenced by periodontal diseases.  It is important that your dental and medical teams work together in order to achieve successful outcomes.

Whole Health Consequences of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the oral tissues surrounding the teeth.  Bacteria and inflammatory byproducts responsible for the disease can be released into the bloodstream and travel throughout your body.  Researchers have linked this process to a number of serious medical conditions.

Two plausible mechanisms have been suggested for how gum disease and these other serious medical concerns could be related: Moderate to severe periodontal disease increases the level of systemic (bodily), inflammation — a characteristic of all chronic inflammatory diseases.  Also, the same bacterial strains that are commonly found in periodontal pockets surrounding diseased teeth have been found in blood vessel plaques of individuals with cardio vascular disease, (CVD).

“People think of gum disease in terms of their teeth, but they don’t think about the fact that gum disease is a serious infection that can release bacteria into the bloodstream”

~ Dr. Robert Genco, editor “journal of Periodontology”

Possible complications arising from untreated periodontal disease include:

  • Cancer

    Recent studies have shown a significant link between periodontal disease and several types of cancer.
  • Diabetes

    Periodontal infection can raise blood sugar in diabetic patients.  Periodontal treatment often results in a reduced need for insulin.
  • Heart Disease & Heart Attack

    Recent studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are 27 times more likely to suffer a heart attack.
  • Pre-Term Childbirth

    Women with periodontal disease are seven to eight times more likely to give birth prematurely to a low birth-weight baby.
  • Respiratory Disease

    Periodontal infection in the mouth can be breathed in and increase the severity of such respiratory diseases as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Stroke

    Studies have also shown that people with periodontal disease are three times more likely to suffer a stroke.
  • Periodontal Infection Is a Medical Problem

    Periodontal disease is no longer thought to be just a dental problem.  Researchers are finding many correlations between periodontal infection and serious medical problems.
  • Your Infection Can Be Transmitted

    Research using DNA testing has found that 80% of all periodontal disease comes from bacteria transmitted from a parent or spouse.  Patients with periodontal disease can pass their infection along to their loved ones.
  • Some Patients Are At Higher Risk

    Patients in certain higher risk categories (see below) should pay particular attention to any signs of periodontal disease.

Those patients having a personal or family history of:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Immune disorders
  • Premature childbirth
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Stroke

Those patients having higher risk life styles, including:

  • Chronic stress
  • Frequent colds, flu, etc.
  • Overweight
  • Sedentary
  • Smoking

Higher Risk Patients

If you have been told you have periodontal disease, (or some of its symptoms), it is important that you seek evaluation and treatment.

Oral Pathology

Oral pathology is concerned with diseases of the oral and paraoral structures including oral soft tissues and mucous membranes and the teeth, jaws, and salivary glands.

Recognizing and identifying abnormalities in these tissues is essential for the wellbeing of our patients.  Each patient is given a thorough oral path exam, periodically, to look for signs and symptoms of abnormal changes.

Some oral lesions exhibit distinctive clinical features and only require visual recognition to establish an accurate diagnosis.  Others share common clinical features and present a diagnostic challenge which may require a biopsy to obtain a definitive diagnosis.  If a biopsy is required, it is usually a minor, in-office procedure with the results of a laboratory analysis being available in a few days.

Related Articles

Link Between Heart and Gum Disease - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases Inflammation has emerged as a factor in the process of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which commonly results in heart attacks and strokes. While the precise role inflammation plays in causing chronic CVD remains an area of intense investigation, much more is now known. The good news is that, based on current research, we know that if we can reduce the inflammation caused by periodontal disease, we may reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes... Read Article

Pregnancy and Oral Health - Dear Doctor Magazine

Pregnancy & Oral Health Pregnancy is generally thought of as the time when a woman strives to be particularly aware of the need for better health. Many women, though, may not be aware of the link that exists between their oral health and their systemic (general) health, as well as the impact this can have on a developing child. Learn about how to care for yourself and your baby... Read Article

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John T. Burdine

Dr. John T. Burdine graduated from the University of Texas in 1966 with a B.S. in chemistry and from the Houston Dental Branch in 1970 with a D.D.S degree.