There are both dental and medical consequences of periodontal disease. This section covers each briefly. To skip to the Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease, click here.
Dental Consequences of Periodontal Disease
75% of all adult tooth loss is due to periodontal disease. When your gums and bone are damaged by periodontal infection, there is less support for your teeth. As this support disappears, your teeth first become loose and then can be lost. When your dentist recommends periodontal treatment, it is important to get started right away.
Natural Teeth Must Be Replaced
If the periodontal inflammation continues, you can start to lose your teeth, one at a time. These lost teeth will have to be replaced with dental work, such as:
- Dental implants
- Partial dentures
- Full dentures
If tooth loss continues, it can cause you to need dentures. Many patients do not understand the full consequences of wearing dentures. There can be many problems with dentures including:
- Inability to eat certain foods.
- Inability to feel and taste foods.
- Lisping or clacking when speaking.
- Bad breath or smell.
- Constant pain or discomfort.
- Unnatural looking teeth.
- Self-consciousness and embarrassment.
- Looking old.
- Having to take your dentures out at night for soaking.
- Your spouse seeing you without teeth at night.
The Good News
In most cases the progress of periodontal infection can be stopped with prompt treatment. The gums and bone around your teeth can then be saved from further damage.
Medical Consequences of Periodontal Disease
"People think of gum disease in terms of their teeth, but they don't think about the fact that gum disease is a serious infection that can release bacteria into the bloodstream"
Dr. Robert Genco, editor Journal of Periodontology
Periodontal disease can also lead to inflammation. This inflammatory bacteria enters your bloodstream and then travels throughout your body. It can affect other parts of your body and has been linked with a number of medical conditions. It is important to treat periodontal disease as quickly as possible to avoid the release of bacteria and inflammation into your bloodstream.
Heart Disease & Heart Attack
Recent studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are 2.7 times more likely to suffer a heart attack.
Studies have also shown that people with periodontal disease are 3 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
Women with periodontal disease are 7-8 times more likely to give birth prematurely to a low birth-weight baby.
Periodontal infection can raise blood sugar in diabetic patients. Periodontal treatment often results in a reduced need for insulin.
Periodontal infection in the mouth can be breathed in and increase the severity of such respiratory diseases as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.
Periodontal Infection is a Medical Problem
Periodontal disease is no longer thought to be just a dental problem. Researchers are finding many correlations between periodontal infection and serious medical problems.
Your Infection Can Be Transmitted
Research has shown that periodontal disease can be passed through saliva. Patients with periodontal disease can pass it on to their loved ones. Because of this, it is sometimes recommended that all family members see their dentist or periodontist for a periodontal disease screening.
Some Patients are At Higher Risk
Patients in certain higher risk categories (see below) should pay particular attention to any signs of periodontal disease.
Those patients having a personal or family history of:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Premature childbirth
- Respiratory diseases
Those patients having higher risk lifestyles, including:
- Chronic stress
- Sedentary and overweight
- Frequent colds, flu, etc.
Higher Risk Patients
If you have been told you have periodontal infection (or some of its symptoms) it is vital that you seek evaluation and treatment.
Please see the following links for more information and articles on the medical consequences of periodontal disease: