Periodontal Disease Can Affect One’s Overall Health
Question: “Dr. Arnold, my dentist recently told me that I have gum disease. He told me that this can also cause other health problems. Is this true?”
Answer: Approximately seventy-five percent of American adults have some level of gum disease. This can range from a low-level, chronic infection to severe periodontitis, which shows destruction of the bone that supports teeth. In fact, periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Unfortunately, an increasing number of studies show a significant correlation between the bacteria in gum disease and multiple serious health problems.
The disease-causing bacteria from one’s mouth can enter the bloodstream, circulate throughout the body, and create or exacerbate health problems. The following disorders are just a few that have been linked to gum disease, and this list is growing as research continues in this area: heart disease, Alzheimer’s, respiratory diseases, diabetes, arthritis, and low birth-weight babies are all conditions that have shown a link to the bacteria associated with gum disease.
One of the most disturbing revelations is that these bacteria can be transferred from one person to another through kissing, sharing toothbrushes, etc. Parents can even transmit bacteria from their own mouths to their children by drinking from the same glass.
Obviously, the first step in avoiding this pervasive condition is to diligently brush and floss your teeth every day. This decreases the likelihood of bacterial proliferation in your mouth. Make sure that your spouse or “significant other” is doing the same. Regular, professional cleaning in a dental office is also essential. The help of a dental hygienist or dentist is necessary because we cannot remove hard deposits (tartar) on our own.
If you suffer from symptoms including bleeding when you brush or floss, persistent bad breath, or red, swollen gums, you need to contact a dentist or periodontist who can help you overcome this problem. The longer these conditions persist, the more likely you are to develop one of the aforementioned health conditions.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.