Periodontal Diseases and How They Affect Your Overall Health

Did you know that there is a symbiotic relationship between oral health and overall health? After much research, scientists have identified a number of links between poor oral health and other health problems.

Here at Dudley Smiles, we specialize in creating smiles! We also believe that getting the smile of your dreams should be a fun and comfortable experience, one that improves your oral health as much as your overall health.

We want you to know how periodontal diseases are linked to your overall health, so we have put together this guide. Protect yourself by learning more.  

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, is the first stage of periodontal disease. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved.

Symptoms that you may be on the path toward periodontal disease are:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

What causes periodontal disease?

Our mouths are full of bacteria. If our oral hygiene routine slips or our dental visits become irregular, plaque builds up on our teeth and eventually spreads below the gum line. This buildup of bacterial plaque is the main cause of periodontal disease. Additionally, misaligned teeth create places in the mouth that are hard to clean. That is one of the many benefits of straightening teeth.

Periodontal disease can be prevented in most cases by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly (about once every six months). Daily brushing and flossing, when done correctly, helps to remove most of the plaque from your teeth. Professional cleanings by your dentist or dental hygienist will keep plaque under control in places that are harder for a toothbrush or floss to reach.

There are other contributors such as smoking, excess weight, stress, fluctuating hormones, diabetes, poor nutrition, and medications. A number of medications used to treat systematic diseases can cause oral complications. The lack of saliva production is a common side effect of many of these medications. Saliva is needed to help clean the mouth. This is why it is important to tell your dentist about medications being taken or changes to their dosages.

Teen girl smiling with mouthwash

How does periodontal disease affect overall health?

There are a number of conditions or diseases that can share a link with poor oral health that leads to periodontal diseases. Let’s examine a few:

  • Inflammation– Ongoing inflammation in your mouth mixed with other conditions can allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream, which in turn can lead to inflammation and chronic pains in other parts of your body.
  • Osteoporosis– Researchers have found a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased and, in turn, lead to a weak foundation for the teeth.
  • Heart disease Oral inflammation helps develop plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing the chances for clogged arteries, heart disease, and heart attacks. In fact, some research suggests that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as people without gum disease.
  • Stroke– Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by clogged arteries.
  • Diabetes– If you have diabetes, you are already at increased risk of developing gum disease because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection. People who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
  • Cancer– Research shows that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.
  • Reduced self-esteem- People with severe oral diseases may be reluctant to smile due to embarrassment about the appearance of their teeth or lack thereof.
  • Pregnancy and birth- Periodontitis, a serious gum disease, has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Oral bacteria release toxins that reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream. As a result, the mother produces labor-triggering substances at an abnormal rate.

Protect Yourself

In order to protect your oral health, it is imperative that you practice good oral hygiene every day. Things you can do are:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed or you have been sick.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises.
  • Visit an orthodontist for a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.

A selfie with the friends

All About Your Health At Dudley Smiles

There is a direct relationship between your oral health and your overall health. When you choose to practice good oral hygiene every day and schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, you are not just making an investment in your oral health, but you are investing in your overall health.

Here at Dudley Smiles, we want to help you achieve the smile of your dreams because we know it is an investment into your overall health. Our experienced team will welcome you in and treat you like family!

We serve the greater Seattle area with locations in Kent and Issaquah. If you have questions or are considering orthodontic treatment, give us a call! The sooner you contact us the sooner you will be on your way to a beautiful smile. We look forward to adding you to the family!