Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection in the tissues which hold your teeth in place. Frequently, periodontal disease is the result of poor oral hygiene habits. Specifically, poor brushing and flossing allows the plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) to build up on your teeth and under your gums and harden into what is known as tartar. In advanced stages, bacteria from periodontal infection can enter your bloodstream and spread to any part of your body. Therefore, Loop Perio of Chicago believes in early diagnosis and thorough, timely treatment of periodontal disease to avoid serious medical consequences in the future.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Clear indicators of periodontal disease include:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red and inflamed gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Tender or painful gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth sensitivity

Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease

In order to determine if you have gum disease, we will:

  • Examine for areas of inflammation
  • Use a probe (tiny ruler) to measure any pockets caused by receding gums
  • Inquire about your medical history and lifestyle habits to identify risk factors
  • Take X-rays to check for bone loss

What Are the Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease?

There are multiple potential health complications that can arise from untreated periodontal disease, including:

  • Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease and Heart Attack: Those with periodontal disease are up to 2.7 times as likely to experience a heart attack
  • Diabetes: Periodontal infections can raise blood sugar in patients with diabetes. In turn, periodontal treatment often reduces the need for insulin
  • Stroke: Patients with periodontal disease are 3 times as likely to have a stroke
  • Respiratory Disease: Oral infections from periodontal disease can be breathed in, increasing the severity of respiratory diseases like bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia
  • Pre-Term Childbirth: Women with periodontal disease are 7 to 8 times as likely to deliver prematurely to a baby with low birth weight
  • Cancer: There is a significant link between periodontal disease and certain types of cancer

Because of the close relationship between periodontal disease and various health conditions, it is no longer considered solely a dental problem. And as more studies are being conducted, researchers are discovering even more correlations.

Periodontal Infection Can Be Transmitted

Studies involving DNA testing have found that up to 80% of periodontal disease comes from harmful bacteria transmitted from a spouse or parent. Not only can periodontal disease cause serious complications in patients who have it, but these patients can pass the infection along to loved ones.

Who Is at a High Risk of Periodontal Disease?

Importantly, there are certain patients who will fall in high risk categories for periodontal disease. This includes patients who have a family or personal history of:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory disease
  • Diabetes
  • Premature childbirth

Lifestyle Choices and Periodontal Disease

Lifestyle Choices and Periodontal Disease

In addition, certain lifestyle risks can make a patient more susceptible to periodontal disease, including:

  • Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco use
  • Inactivity
  • Chronic Stress
  • Frequent colds, flu, and other illnesses
  • Obesity

Early Detection and Timely Treatment Is Key

If you suspect you may have periodontal disease or fall into a high risk category, don’t delay in getting treatment. Contact Loop Perio to address your questions and concerns or to schedule an appointment.