How Can Periodontal Disease Affect Your Systemic Health?

woman with mask looking inside mouthGingivitis is one of the more popular dental health issues today, featured in numerous commercials as the target for modern toothpaste and mouthrinse products. Its potential, however, is not as well-known, and many patients may confuse the condition as being little more than a nuisance that might force them to the dentist’s office more often. The truth is that gingivitis is a dire warning, and when neglected, it will progress into periodontal disease. As your Polk City dentist explains, the condition involves excessive inflammation and the destruction of a patient’s periodontal tissues, or gums, and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), periodontal disease is also a contributing factor to numerous other chronic inflammatory illnesses.

It All Begins With Plaque (and Inadequate Hygiene)

Dental plaque is the sticky, colorless film that sometimes coats your teeth and gums, especially after you haven’t brushed your teeth in a while. The film is comprised of over 600 different kinds of oral bacteria, some of which possess unique properties that directly threaten your teeth and gums. As bacteria and plaque form along the gum line, some release toxins that force teeth to separate from gums, creating pockets where more germs can gather and cause a periodontal infection (known as gingivitis).

The Potential of Porphyromonas gingivalis

As the first stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis is marked by the symptoms of infected gum tissues, including redness, swelling, and occasional bleeding. The excessive inflammation results from the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis, an oral bacterium with the ability to manipulate the immune system’s inflammatory response to avoid elimination. As it dodges the immune system, P. gingivalis’ presence leads to excessive swelling that damages gums and facilitates the onset of periodontal disease.

As periodontal tissues bleed, oral bacteria can enter the patient’s blood stream and travel to other areas of the body, potentially inciting inflammation in other soft tissues. Its unique properties make P. gingivalis a suspect in numerous systemic conditions that involve chronic inflammation, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and some forms of dementia as patients grow older.

Protect Your Smile, and More

Aside from diligently brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, be sure to attend a routine dental checkup and cleaning at least once every six months. During your visit, Dr. Hussong or one of our talented hygienists will thoroughly clean the surfaces of your teeth to plaque and its calcified form, tartar, especially along the gum line, to reduce your risk of dental diseases. If Dr. Hussong notices signs of periodontal trouble, then prompt treatment can help you avoid the need for extensive periodontal therapy in the future.

About Dr. Ryan Hussong:

Dr. Ryan Hussong is a dedicated general and family dentist who is passionate about helping patients create and maintain beautiful, healthy smiles. To schedule a consultation with us, call the Cornerstone Dental office today at (515) 984-6001.