LINKS BETWEEN GUM DISEASE, DIABETES AND HEART DISEASE
Gum Disease is a chronic bacterial disease that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It is serious infection that if left untreated can cause major problems for your mouth including loss of teeth.
Prevention and treatment of gum disease is acquiring more importance amongst health care professionals due its links with diabetes and heart disease. Gum Disease can contribute to these illnesses through the addition of bacteria and inflammatory agents from the mouth into the bloodstream which carries them to the rest of the body.
HEART DISEASE AND GUM DISEASE
Presence of gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease. Oral bacteria provoke inflammation which increases levels of white blood cells and a certain protein called C-reactive protein (CRP). This protein is found in the blood and linked to heart disease. In recent trials, treatment of gum disease reduced the patients’ levels of CRP. CRP levels can be tested for in the blood just like cholesterol can and this test can be requested from the doctor.
Studies also suggest that adults with the highest levels of some oral bacteria have thicker carotid arteries which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
DIABETES AND GUM DISEASE
It is thought that a third of all diabetics will suffer from gum disease at some stage of their disease.
Patients with diabetes suffer from a list of impaired bodily functions, one of which is thickened blood vessels which reduces the efficiency of the flow of nutrients and removal of waste products from body tissues. The impaired blood flow weakens the gums and bones which makes them more prone to infection. If diabetes is poorly managed it can lead to higher glucose levels in the mouth which encourages the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease and decay. Once gum disease has developed in a diabetic patient it is difficult to shift. The relationship between diabetes and gum disease has a synergistic relationship. Periodontal disease makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels as it increases the blood sugar in the body. The more severe the gum disease the higher the blood sugar levels which in turn leads to increase risk of diabetic complications.
Diabetics who receive good dental care and look after their gums are less likely to develop periodontal disease.