Friday, November 26, 2010

Periodontal Disease Part 2 of 3: Why It SHOULD NOT Be Ignored!

Last week we discussed periodontal disease. We talked about the causes, symptoms and types and we discovered that virtually anyone could be at risk. We also dabbled in the possible consequences of failing to treat gum disease, including the importance of regular maintenance since 75% of the population has gum disease and doesn't even know it. This week we are going to take a closer look at the moderate to severe health risks of untreated gum disease. The connection your mouth has to the rest of your body might surprise you.

Tooth Loss is the most common risk associated with gum disease. Although mild cases rarely result in the loss of teeth, severe or advanced cases are at a high risk. When left untreated, gum disease will grow usually from gingivitis, then advance in to periodontitis which has many different forms ranging from mild to sever, to rare. In sever cases, gums become inflamed and begin to pull apart from your teeth, forming spaces, or "pockets" to grow, allowing infection to grow as well. As your body (immune system) fights off the infection, bacteria and plaque continue to destroy the bone and tissue that hold the tooth in place, causing them to become loose and eventually fall out.

Heart Disease and Periodontal Disease have recently been medically linked together. All though the study is still in investigative status, recent reports have shown that people who have severe periodontal disease are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Keep an eye out as we will be keeping you up to date on this subject and more information becomes available.

Diabetes is a risk factor for periodontal disease as is periodontal disease a risk for diabetes patients. It is proven that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of gum disease because diabetes causes changes in blood vessels and high levels of inflammatory chemicals that increase the risk of gum disease. And on the reverse, periodontal disease can worsen diabetes and make controlling blood sugar difficult.

Respiratory Diseases can also be caused by bacteria from periodontal disease being inhaled in to the airways and in to the throat and lungs. This bacteria can cause respiratory problems and also worsen existing problems such as emphysema.

Pregnancy can be effected if the mother has severe periodontal disease. Recent studies have shown that bacteria from gum disease may trigger the same factors in the immune system that could cause the baby to be premature and have a low birth weight. The worse the infection, the worse the risk is to the baby.

Many of these health conditions can be prevented, managed or easily controlled with regular visits to your dentists and general physician. Join me again next week for the conclusion (part 3) of this blog series as we will be discussing prevention, treatment, and cures for gum disease.

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