Periodontal Disease & Overall Health
Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health – or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Like other areas of the body, your mouth is home to millions of mostly harmless bacteria. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.
Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.
Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including endocarditis and cardiovascular disease. Although the connection is not fully understood, research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Periodontitis has been linked in pregnancy to premature birth and low birth weight. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
The bone-weakening disease, osteoporosis, is linked with periodontal bone loss and its resultant tooth loss. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome).
Tell us about the medications you take and about changes in your overall health, especially if you have recently been ill or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.