Your Gums & Your Heart

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Periodontal Disease

Common Signs & Symptoms

Periodontal Disease is a progressive condition and leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults in the developed world. In short it is the destruction of the gum tissue and underlying bone. Periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms.

  • Pain, redness or swelling – A periodontal infection may be present if the gums are swollen, red, or painful for no apparent reason.
  • Longer tooth appearance – Periodontal disease can lead to gum reaction making the teeth look longer.
  • Loose teeth/change in bite pattern – A sign of rapidly progressing periodontitis is the loosening or shifting of the teeth in the affected area.
  • Pus – Pus between the teeth is a definitive sign that a periodontal infection is in progress. The pus is a result of the body trying to fight the bacterial infection.

Relationship Between Periodontal Disease and
Systemic Conditions

There is a strong association between periodontal disease and other system conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory disease. Common connections associated with periodontal disease include:

Diabetes

Research has shown that individuals with pre-existing diabetic conditions are more likely to either have, or be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can increase blood sugar levels, which makes controlling the amount of glucose in the blood difficult. This factor alone can increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Conversely, diabetes thickens blood vessels and therefore makes it harder for the mouth to rid itself of excess sugar. Excess sugar in the mouth creates a breeding ground for the types of oral bacteria that causes gum disease.

Heart Disease

There are several theories, which explain the link between heart disease and periodontitis disease. One such theory is that the oral bacteria strains, which exacerbate periodontal disease, can attach themselves to the coronary arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack. A second possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease causes a significant plague build up. This can swell the arteries and worsen pre-existing heart conditions.

Pregnancy Complications

Women in general are at increased risk of developing periodontal disease because of hormone fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Research suggests that pregnant women suffering from periodontal disease are more at risk of preeclampsia and delivering underweight, premature babies.

Respiratory Disease

Bacteria linked to periodontal disease has been shown to possibly cause or worsen conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).