Dangers of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease can cause swollen gums, tissue and bone destruction, and tooth loss. These, however, are not the only dangers that periodontal disease presents. Many other serious health conditions can be related to or become complicated by the presence of periodontal disease. Dr. Dan Gholson, a periodontist for La Crosse, WI, specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease.

Bleeding or swollen gums caused by periodontal disease are essentially open wounds that allow the bacteria in your mouth to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. The circulating bacteria can spread disease to organs or worsen an existing condition. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, and low birth weight babies.

Patients with diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV, and other diseases that lower the body’s resistance to infection may be at a greater risk of developing advanced periodontal disease. Research suggests that the connection between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways. Patients with diabetes seem to develop periodontal disease more frequently, and it often advances more quickly. Conversely, blood sugar levels can be improved and better controlled when periodontal disease is treated and controlled.

Heart disease and stroke are health risks that are associated with periodontal disease. The body’s natural defense to infection is inflammation. Studies suggest that when the oral bacteria travel through your system and the inflammatory response is triggered, arteries may be narrowed and the risk of clots is increased.

Patients who have recently had heart surgery, certain congenital heart conditions, or prosthetic valves may need to take antibiotics before dental procedures to prevent a dangerous condition called bacterial endocarditis. Bacterial endocarditis can occur if bacteria from the mouth enters the blood stream and infects the tissues of the heart.

Periodontal disease may advance more quickly in patients that suffer from osteoporosis. Patients with osteoporosis can be at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease due to low bone density levels.

Prevention is the best strategy for periodontal disease. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings are very important in prevention. Any periodontal disease symptoms, such as swollen gums, should be addressed immediately. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Gholson, an experienced periodontist for La Crosse, WI, to learn about treatment options that can improve your oral and overall health.