Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) Has Been Linked to Systemic Illness
Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Severe gum disease has been associated with far more serious medical conditions. Its presence has been correlated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.
A recent study at the Harvard Medical School of 51,000 male health professionals found that men with gum disease had a 63% higher chance of having pancreatic cancer, even if they never smoked.
What is the link between oral health and overall health? The culprit appears to be inflammation. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and bone around your teeth resulting in gum recession, tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss. These bacteria send inflammatory cells into the bloodstream, which carries them to other organs. It is the presence of those cells in other organs of your body that increases the likelihood that other chronic medical conditions will arise.
Approximately 80% of the adult population in the United States has periodontal disease, though no one is completely immune. It is probably one of the most common inflammatory diseases known to mankind.
About 30% of the population is genetically predisposed to periodontal disease. Those with compromised immune systems and diabetes are more susceptible. Smoking, poor oral hygiene, stress and some medications like contraceptives, antidepressants and certain heart medications can all increase the risk of gum disease. Clenching or grinding the teeth can also accelerate the rate at which the periodontal tissues are destroyed. Periodontal disease can also be exacerbated by severe osteoporosis.
Gum Disease During Pregnancy Linked to Low Birth Weight Premature Babies
As reported by a study in The Journal of Periodontology, women with gum infections (periodontal disease, gingivitis, bleeding gums) may have a sevenfold increase in the risk of delivering a premature low birth weight baby weighing less than 5 lbs, 8 oz.
About 1 in every 12 babies in the US is born with low birth weight. Researchers have found that this is still the number one cause of infant mortality with low birth weight babies 40 times more likely to die during the neonatal period.
It has long been known that risk factors for pregnant women include smoking, abusing street and prescription drugs, consuming alcohol, and any infections during pregnancy. Studies have suggested that 18% of the 250,000 low birth weight cases annually in the US may be attributed to periodontal infections.
It is believed that the bacteria from periodontal infections retard fetal growth by releasing toxins into the blood stream which reach the placenta, interfering with fetal development. The gum infection also stimulates the production of inflammatory chemicals similar to those used to induce abortion. These chemicals cause the cervix to dilate and set off uterine contractions.
Researchers have found that the risk of having a premature baby of low birth weight was at least 7.5 times as high for women with severe periodontal disease compared to women with lesser degrees of gum infection.
These fascinating studies suggest that periodontal disease in women of child bearing years is of particular concern.
Our routine oral examination includes a thorough periodontal assessment evaluating 6 sites per tooth, a meticulous and gentle cleaning to remove infection causing plaque and calculus (tartar) and proper oral hygiene instructions.
Laser Dentistry For Treating and Preventing Peridontal Disease
Use of the soft tissue diode laser is the latest gentle and conservative method for the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease. Please check the Laser Dentistry page in Dr. Levy‘s Advanced Technology pull-down menu for information regarding this wonderful state-of-the-art technology.
How Dr. Levy Care For Your Dental Health
The dental office of Steven M. Levy, DMD put great emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. All of our new patients are screened for it. Our existing patients are checked for it every time they have a cleaning.
Dr. Levy put great emphasis on communication. He is always available for your questions. It is through frank dialogue that fears are eased and a positive long term relationship becomes established between doctor and patient.
We treat and maintain gum disease in an efficient, effective and non-surgical manner. Our office teaches and emphasizes proper oral hygiene habits. No one should suffer the physical and emotional pains of tooth loss.
Most individuals periodontal health can be maintained and dramatically improved by conservative means. However, should it be necessary, Dr. Levy can refer you to some of the finest Periodontists (gum specialists) on Long Island.
Learn about your gums, how to keep them healthy and about periodontal maintenance in our Dental Health section.
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