Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease
Evidence is now mounting that periodontal disease can be a risk factor in cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. People with untreated periodontal disease are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and have twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack than people without periodontal disease.
Individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease are advised to have their mouths assessed for periodontal disease and proceed with treatment to eliminate any existing periodontal infection.
Smoking and Periodontal Disease
Smoking is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Smokers are at much greater risk of losing teeth due to periodontal disease than non-smokers. Smoking reduces the blood supply to the tissues surrounding the teeth. The intense heat and toxins produced during smoking can also affect the bacterial composition of the mouth negatively and the body’s immune response to the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Smoking reduces the effectiveness of periodontal therapy regardless of the level of oral hygiene.
What is the Link Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease?
Like other complications of diabetes, periodontal disease is linked to diabetic control. People with poor blood sugar control get periodontal disease more often and more severely, and they lose more teeth than do persons with good blood sugar control. Conversely, people whose diabetes is well controlled have no more periodontal disease than persons without diabetes. Children with IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) are also at risk for periodontal problems. Good diabetic control is the best protection against periodontal disease.
Studies show that controlling blood sugar levels lowers the risk of complications of diabetes, such as eye and heart disease and nerve damage. Scientists believe many complications, including periodontal disease, can be prevented with good diabetic control.
Researchers have shown that if a diabetic has periodontal disease, once the periodontal infection is successfully treated, it is often easier for the diabetic to control his or her blood sugar levels.
Women and Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that slowly damages the bone and gums supporting the teeth. If untreated, tooth loss will eventually occur. The main culprit to this disease is the bacteria and its toxins found in dental plaque. Other triggers are stress, smoking, diabetes, a poor diet and lack of good nutrition.
Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease
Pregnancy is accompanied with an increase in the levels of both progesterone and estrogen which, by the third trimester, reaches levels 10-30 times higher than normal. This swell in hormone levels may result in changes to the gum tissue.
Studies have shown an increase in gingivitis from 35%-100% during pregnancy. It is characterized by swelling, bleeding, tenderness and redness of the gum tissue.
In some cases, pregnant women may notice the formation of large, isolated growths or lumps in between or around teeth. These growths may result from a build up of plaque and tartar together with the alterations in hormone levels exaggerated by pregnancy. The lumps can be effectively removed and are not likely to recur with good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings.
Preterm, Low Birth Weight Infants
A very recent study has found an important association between periodontal disease and the incidence of preterm, low birth weight infants. The presence of periodontal infection can increase the likelihood of a child born too early and too small by seven times. This may increase the child’s risk of future health problems.
It is recommended that a periodontal evaluation be included as part of Prenatal care.
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