Here are more reasons to take good care of your teeth and gums: A growing body of research shows that keeping your gums healthy may lower your risk of developing serious physical conditions. Early intervention by our periodontist can also go a long way toward preventing gum disease and associated problems.
Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Illness
Much research has shown that maintaining healthy gums reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. Because periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, it can trigger the type of inflammation that causes hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
Arthritis and Gum Disease
Inflammation is a byproduct of the immune system attacking the body itself. This response is linked to both periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Several studies show a strong association between RA and gum disease.
The European Congress of Rheumatology did a study on 636 patients who suffered varying levels of teeth lost to gum disease. The research found that participants with 10 or fewer teeth were 8 times more likely to have arthritis than those who retained all of their original teeth.
Respiratory Infections and Gum Disease
Your mouth and lungs are both a part of the respiratory system, so it is possible for mouth bacteria to travel to the lungs.
Most types of bacteria in your mouth are benign and do nothing more than help digest food. However, pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria can enter the mouth and find a prime environment to thrive before spreading from mouth to lungs. The good news is that keeping your mouth clean with regular brushing and flossing reduces the impact of these bacteria.
Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy Complications
Up to 70 percent of women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Hormone levels change during this time, causing an inflammatory response that in turn can increase periodontal disease risk.
Studies have also shown a strong link between periodontal disease and preterm labor. In a normal pregnancy, inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins exist in balance. However, the scales tip when a pregnant woman has gum disease. Elevated levels of inflammatory proteins increase the risk of early labor and other complications.
Dementia and Periodontal Disease
A 2020 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examined long-term research involving 6,000 people. It found that subjects who joined the study with signs of periodontal disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
In April 2021, researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry and Weill Cornell Medicine found a link between gum disease and beta-amyloid, a protein that disrupts communication between brain cells as Alzheimer’s disease develops.
Cancer Risk and Gum Disease
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people with severe periodontal disease have a higher cancer risk. Those with severe periodontitis had a 24 percent greater risk of various cancers, and those who had lost all their teeth to gum disease elevated their risk by 28 percent.
Gum Disease Prevention
Fortunately, gum disease is highly preventable. For more information on how a healthy mouth makes for a healthy body, or to schedule a gum health check, contact our periodontist office.