Because periodonal disease is a bacterial infection, periodontal bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Periodontal disease is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Heart Disease affects more that 60 million Americans. It is the leading cause of death in the United States, yet many types of heart disease can be prevented. Taking care of your periodontal health may be one step toward prevention.
Approximately half of American adults have some form of periodontal disease with bone loss and don't even know it. It is painless and silent until it's advanced stages. Many people believe that their oral health ends with their teeth and gums, but this isn't the case. Various medical conditions are linked to gum disease because of unresolved inflammation and the risk of secondary infections. Pregnant women with periodontal disease are at risk for pre-term labor and low birth weight babies. It is important to have regular dental appoinments to have your condition evaluated.
A research study has shown that individuals with pre-existing diabetic conditions are more likely to either have or be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can lead to increased blood sugar levels which makes controlling the amount of glucose in the blood difficult. This factor alone can increase the risk of serious diabetic complications. Conversely, diabetes makes it harder for the body to fight off infections such as periodontal disease.
Oral bacteria linked with periodontal disease have been shown to possibly cause or worsen conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Oral bacteria can be drawn into the lower respiratory tract during the course of normal inhalation and colonize, causing bacterial infections. Studies have shown that the repeated infections which characterize COPD may be linked with periodontitis.
In addition to the bacterial risk, inflammation in the gum tissues can lead to severe inflammation in the lining of the lungs, which aggravates pneumonia. Individuals who suffer from chronic or persistent respiratory issues generally have low immunity. This means that bacteria can readily colonize beneath the gumline, unchallenged by the body's immune system.