What Systemic Diseases are Linked to Periodontal Disease?

By Dr. Jonathan Richter, DDS FAGD

Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with several other diseases. For a long time it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other disease in the body; however, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may be responsible for the association.

Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Gum disease and diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections.

Gum disease and heart disease

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation.

Gum disease and pregnancy problems

Some studies have suggested that pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born to early and too small.

Gum disease and respiratory problems

Bacterial respiratory infections are thought to be acquired through aspiration (inhaling) of fine droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can breed and multiply within the lungs to cause damage.

Gum disease and Osteoporosis

Researchers have suggested that there is a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the dentistry of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation.

Periodontal disease and bisphosphonates

Recently, there has been information in the news about taking bisphosphonates and the implications on your periodontal health.

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