(VVNG.com)- There is a common misconception that your mouth is a separate entity from the rest of your body. However, bacteria in your mouth can be related to and affect other common diseases. In this article I would like to discuss periodontal disease, it’s relationship to systemic conditions, and what can be done to improve oral hygiene.
Everyone has heard of terms such as gum disease, and periodontal disease. What do they specifically mean? Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, and is reversible with proper hygiene. Periodontal disease destroys the tissues that support the teeth, and is irreversible. Just like a bald spot once your gums grow back, they don’t come back. Periodontal disease presents in the mouth as bleeding sores, bone loss, and tooth mobility.
Smoking and poorly controlled diabetes are common risk factors for development of periodontal disease. Tobacco users are five to seven times more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-smokers. Smoking has a destructive effect on your immune system and studies have shown that smoking cessation significantly slows periodontal disease progression. Similarly, patients with poorly controlled diabetes are more susceptible to chronic infection and thus, it is important that diabetic patients are meticulous about their oral hygiene.
Periodontal disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections, and complications during pregnancy. Aspiration of oral bacteria has been linked to respiratory disease, ie. pneumonia. With regards to cardiovascular disease, it has been proposed that bacteria entering systemic circulation may contribute to the clot forming process. Lastly, there is a very strong association between periodontal disease and pregnancy complications, specifically an increased risk for delivery of a pre-term, low birth weight baby.
Early detection of periodontal disease is crucial in determining a patient’s treatment options. If detected early, non-invasive treatment along with frequent follow-ups for the first year can be an effective management strategy. In a five-year follow-up study this significantly reduced the need for surgery and tooth loss. While there has been much innovative progress in dentistry such as implants; pre-existing conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and periodontal disease can be a contraindications for such procedures. While it may seem costly up front, prevention is usually the most cost-effective and best long-term strategy in keeping a healthy mouth. It is very important to maintain the hygiene schedule set up by your dentist because home care alone may not be enough to control the disease process. Taking care of your teeth means a better well-being, so your body can take better care of itself.
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